Getting People Outdoors for Their Health in Oregon
Oregon Health and Outdoors Initiative
In Oregon, we’re working with Oregon Public Health Institute and other partners to improve mental and physical health by increasing the presence and use of the outdoors in communities facing health disparities.
Spending time outdoors in nature can improve human health, but not everyone has equal access to the outdoors.
Communities of color, low-income communities, people with disabilities, and other vulnerable groups face barriers to spending time in the outdoors and are also more likely to experience health disparities than white, middle- and high-income people.
The Health and Outdoors Action Framework outlines the beginnings of a strategy for accelerating positive health and conservation outcomes for all Oregonians by increasing the presence of, access to, and use of parks, nature, and the outdoors in communities facing inequities. The recommendations in the framework are based on current research and evidence, ideas from interviews and group work sessions, and the experience of the planning team. The planning team included:
Actions are underway to implement the Oregon Action Framework for Health and the Outdoors.
The pilot projects are designed to support communities with the resources and tools they need to reduce barriers to getting outdoors; develop more parks, trails, and trees; improve access to existing green spaces; and, scale the programs that get people outdoors.
LatinXplorers in the Columbia Gorge has health workers leading group hikes that reduce stress and build community.
Adaptive Sports Northwest in Portland is bringing nature a little closer to people with physical disabilities. Hand cycling at Portland International Raceway is a great way to get outside, be with people, and get active.
We know enough about the health benefits of time spent outdoors in nature to act now (see Table 1). However, many questions remain about the effects of contact with nature on human health. For example, how do we measure a “dose” of nature? We’ve created a research agenda focused on key unanswered questions that have the potential to yield major public health insights, now published in Environmental Health Perspectives.
We are also developing the evaluation tools that communities need to measure the health benefits of their work.
The following organizations lead the Oregon Health and Outdoor Initiative: Oregon Public Health Institute, Oregon Community Health Workers Association, Oregon Healthiest State, Oregon Health & Science University’s Office of Disability and Health, PacificSource Health Plans, Intertwine Alliance, Northeast Oregon Network, Providence Center for Outcomes Research and Education, The Black Parent Initiative, and Willamette Partnership.
The Oregon Health and Outdoor Initiative is made possible with generous support from Lora L. and Martin N. Kelley Family Foundation, REI Co-Op, U.S. Forest Service, Oregon Community Foundation, Meyer Memorial Trust, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Gray Family Foundation, Knight Cancer Institute Community Partnership Program, Providence Hood River Hospital, Nike, and Pacific Source Health Plans.
Get in touch about the Oregon Health and Outdoor Initiative.
Have questions about the Oregon Health and Outdoor Initiative?
Executive Director of Willamette Partnership
Health & Outdoors Project Manager with Oregon Public Health Institute