For the fourth year this Black Friday, REI Co-op will close its 153 stores, process no online payments, and pay more than 12,000 employees to #OptOutside with friends and family. Since 2015, 15 million people and more than 700 organizations have joined the #OptOutside movement.
This year, REI is also pledging $1 million to support the launch of a center at the University of Washington that will study the link between human health and time spent outdoors.
“The best data we have says that, in any given year, 150 million Americans don’t spend any time outside,” said REI CEO Jerry Stritzke. “That’s half the country. Day in, day out, we’re looking down instead of up, looking at our phones instead of the world around us. We’re asking people this year to reevaluate that picture of themselves. To see technology as the starting point to a journey outside, not the destination. And to go explore the world with someone they love – on Black Friday and every day.”
- A literature review by researchers at the UW found that, “Nature contact offers promise both as prevention and as treatment across the life course. Potential advantages include low costs relative to conventional medical interventions, safety, practicality, not requiring dispensing by highly trained professionals, and multiple co-benefits. Few medications can boast these attributes.”
- Dr. Nooshin Razani at the UCS’s Benioff Children’s Hospital in Oakland found a physician’s recommendation to spend time outdoors can reduce stress among low-income patients
- In June, a study by the Great Outdoors Lab, a collaboration between the Sierra Club and UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, concluded that getting outdoors improves physical, mental, and social well-being and that the emotion of awe experienced in nature is an important mechanism driving these effects. These benefits can be especially helpful in assisting war veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. The group that participated in outdoor group activities reported improvements in self-confidence, diminished reliance on medications and alcohol, and more.
“The best researchers in the world are proving the case that getting outside is critical to our mental and our physical well-being,” said Stritzke. “It’s time to rethink time outdoors as a must-have, not a nice-to-have.”