Healthy Parks Healthy People
In 1916, Colonel Richard Lieber, an Indianapolis businessman and German immigrant, proposed that a state park system be created in commemoration of the state's centennial. With Lieber's leadership, Indiana amongst other states would eventually create their own parks system. Many of Lieber's philosophical beliefs continue to be upheld today by way of park self-sufficiency, high park quality, resource management, and offerings of interpretative programs; putting Indiana on the forefront of state park conservation.
As there is a state park within an one hour drive of every Indiana Hoosier, distance can no longer be an excuse to not experience Indiana like it once was: "mature forests, wetlands and prairies".
Vistors to Indiana state parks have increased significantly in the last ten years. During the 2008 fiscal year, there were approximately 15.3 million visitors to the 33 state parks. Nine years later in 2017, visitation jumped to 17.4 million, nearly triple Indiana's population.
While increased visitation rates may sound like a good thing, many park officials worry about how this increased foot traffic could affect the preservation of what state parks were created to save. See this article to read more on how increased visitation is affecting the national parks system.
Evidence continues to build supporting the theory that time spent in nature can positively influence one's overall health. Natural settings have been proven to lower blood pressure, improve energy level, increase ability to focus, reduce stress, improve mood, and boost our immune system. An Australian study, using self-reported data of 1538 individuals, observed that a weekly exposure of at least 30 minutes in green space could lower prevalence of depression, decrease high blood pressure, and increase social cohesion.
Therefore, it is not surprising that many public health organizations have created programs to encourage "unplugging" from our busy lives to spend time outdoors.
One example, is Indiana's Healthy Parks Healthy People.