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Back on track with your kayak

Earl Johnston, kayaking instructor, paddle boards on Black River near, Ridgeville, S.C., April 13, 2019.

Earl Johnston, kayaking instructor, paddle boards on Black River near, Ridgeville, S.C., April 13, 2019. Johnston has been instructing kayaking for three years and taught Airmen, many for their first time, the fundamentals of kayaking. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kaitlyn Brewer)

U.S. Airmen pose with kayaking instructors for an 8-mile kayaking trip, Ridgeville, S.C., April 13, 2019.

U.S. Airmen pose with kayaking instructors for an 8-mile kayaking trip, Ridgeville, S.C., April 13, 2019. Airmen from the 20th Logistics Readiness Squadron participated in the kayaking event organized by the 20th Support Squadron Outdoor Recreation team. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kaitlyn Brewer)

A kayaking instructor helps pull a man from his kayak as he completes a 8 – mile trip, Ridgeville, S.C., April 13, 2019.

A kayaking instructor helps pull a man from his kayak as he completes a 8 – mile trip, Ridgeville, S.C., April 13, 2019. Airmen from Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., learned how to kayak on a Black River kayaking trip organized by the 20th Force Support Squadron Outdoor Recreation team. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kaitlyn Brewer)

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. --

The 20th Force Support Squadron Outdoor Recreation Center provides Airmen with the opportunity to network and enhance morale through various outdoor activities.

The 20th FSS Outdoor Recreation team organized an eight-mile trip for Airmen to learn the fundamentals of kayaking and have the opportunity to escape the daily stressors of life while bonding with new people they may have otherwise never met.

Those who spend time outdoors, with nature, have better mental health because the vitamin D, exercise and concentration allow people to de-stress, according to Dr. Susanne Preston, South University Virginia Beach, Clinical Mental Health Counseling instructor.

Preston says fresh air and sunlight have the largest benefits for overall health.

“For example, with increased exposure to natural sunlight, incidents of seasonal affective disorder decrease,” said Preston. “When individuals are exposed to natural sunlight, the vitamin D in their skin helps to elevate their moods.”

For Airman 1st Class Nicholas Kedar, 20th Logistics Readiness Squadron aircraft parts store technician, it was his first time kayaking and he said it was a great experience he would encourage all first term Airmen to try.

The July 2010 Harvard Health Letter publication published incentives to get time outdoors and in nature:

-Vitamin D helps fight osteoporosis, depression and heart attacks.

-Natural light elevates moods and leads to people pursuing more active activities due to happiness.

-Those with Attention Deficit Disorder have a better time concentrating with the help of sunlight.

-Healing faster and requiring less medication is a trend among those who have had surgery and also get outdoors often.

“I saw huge smiles on Airmens’ faces as they tried something new for the first time and although some may have come in skeptical they left wanting to come back and with newfound friends,” said Tim Godwin, 20th FSS Outdoor Recreation supervisor programmer.

Every weekend the 20th FSS Outdoor Recreation has something going on to help first term Airmen meet new people and have experiences they have otherwise never come across.

If not for the Air Force Outdoor Recreation programs Airmen would not have these trips available to get out of their comfort zone and meet people, said Kedar.