Many people living in urban environments aren’t spending enough time in nature and enjoying all the benefits it brings. Busy lives and the digital environment seem to be the main culprits why people don’t socialize as much and have fun outside. The ones suffering the most from that are children, who depend on new environments to build their bodies and mind.
Unfortunately, it’s not that easy to get kids outdoors. Tablets and smartphones have replaced parks and playing, so most of the children stay glued to the house. The same applies to adults. A sedentary lifestyle has reached epidemic levels, increasing the mortality rate by 71%, and cardiovascular disease risk by 147%. While jobs are demanding, they shouldn’t be everything and steal all the free time. So, take a look at these amazing benefits that spending more time outdoors will bring to you and your children.
Spending more time outdoors promotes creativity
Mental stimulation is good for both adults and children. Keeping your brain active can slow dementia and Alzheimer’s, as well as allow your kids to expand their perception of the world. Nature is great to relax your mind and enhance the thought process because of the myriad of shapes, colors, and activities.
When playing outside, children will have to use their imagination to create worlds and games. This will bring meaningful interaction with their surroundings allowing them to freely design their play day. By coming up with their activities, they will find inventive ways to approach the world and discover more about it.
Time outdoors builds confidence
Outdoors is great for building confidence since there are many options to start and complete tasks. For example, you can set a goal to go hiking and finish a trail that is somewhat challenging for you. This will bring a sense of accomplishment and empower you to tackle responsibilities in your life.
It’s the same with children. Completing something from start to finish will show them they can control their actions. Nature is just enough unpredictable to provide a challenging environment that they need to overcome and conquer. With every successful task, they will feel proud of themselves and confident in their abilities, allowing them to be more open to the world and social interactions.
It will get you all moving
Since both adults and children are not physically active enough, eminent health institutions have issued recommendations on how to remedy this serious issue. Based on the World Health Organization, children aged 5–7 years should have no less than 60 minutes of at least moderate physical activity daily. More of that is better and encouraged since it will bring additional health benefits for the child. When it comes to adults, at least 150 minutes weekly of moderate physical activity is recommended for enhancing bone health, reducing cardiovascular risks, and fighting depression.
Nature is a perfect place to exercise and be physically active since it offers interesting settings and eliminates monotony. Riding bicycles, playing volleyball, or swimming in the lake are some of the activities you can do outside. Running is also a great way for the whole family to stay in shape and is great for any season or time of the day. If you are not that much physically active, start with something small like jogging around the neighbourhood or yoga in the backyard. Turn it into a family adventure and don’t forget to cheer one another. Soon enough, it will turn into a habit and you will all try to find more challenging ways to be physically active together.
Outdoors is great to reduce stress
Kids experience stress, too. School and friends can be stressful enough that children express negative behaviour and physical symptoms, like a stomachache. Based on psychologists, spending time in nature can improve a child’s attention and give them more mental energy to overcome stress. This is known as the Attention Restoration Theory developed by Stephen and Rachel Kaplan in the late 1980s.
Environmental psychology also supports the notion of restoration and the importance of exploring your surroundings. Since spending so much time indoors has brought a lot of attention to human health and mental development, the psychologists explored ways to help people restore their lives. Once the stress is properly addressed and managed, a child or an adult will feel more energized, productive, and rested.
Nature improves thinking
For children, it’s all about discovering the world through questions and observations. Nature provides perfect stimulation for children to explore their surroundings and improve their thinking process. The outside world is full of stimuli that will activate their senses like hearing, seeing, and touching. It will help them build their experience and feed the natural curiosity they possess.
The whole nature is a wonder for the kids, as well as adults. The environment changes with the seasons and there is always something new to learn. This is best observed during camping since children will be exposed to the outside world the whole day. Even a day trip to the national park is enough for them, and you, to discover something new and exciting about the world that surrounds you.
Children will find out more about the world
It’s normal for little children to go and destroy things. Plucking leaves, stepping on flowers, and killing bugs is something that you will notice in children’s behaviour when outside. Instead of allowing for this, as a parent, you have an opportunity to teach them about the world by showing them how to act respectfully to nature.
This is an excellent way for them to get to know their surroundings better and understand how things work. Young children easily fall in love with animals, plants, and all things nature. It’s a perfect way to teach them compassion, responsibility, and awareness for living things. It can not only help them find out new things but also learn a lot about themselves and their place in the world.
Being outdoors can improve the eyesight
Based on a study from 2015, spending time outdoors can reduce the development of nearsightedness in children. When indoors, children’s eyes are exposed to contents on their phones, tablets, and TV. Not only do these devices put pressure on the eyes, but also they emit harmful lights that can impair the vision.
Nature, on the other hand, is full of beautiful sights and different colours, offering a debt of space and an enormous amount of details. These all make good training for the eyes but in a relaxing and comfortable environment that also doesn’t burden the mind.
Your kids will learn about responsibility
Teaching kids responsibility is not an easy task and you will have to put in an effort so they understand the rewards and consequences. Outdoors is a great educational environment so your children can develop compassion, accountability, courage, and honesty – important traits of responsible behaviour. The best approach is to do gardening together and use potplants as your teaching tools since they are appropriate for any exterior – balcony, terrace, and yard.
There are many benefits of gardening with your little ones. Gardening as a hobby is proven to be the key to a happier life.
Let them choose a plant they like and allow them to care for it. It’s best to start with an already grown and potted plant so your kids don’t lose patience and experience immediately what it’s like to be responsible for it. If they don’t water it, the plant will shrivel and die. When you believe they understood why it’s important to care for the potted plant, you can proceed to give them a seedling. Consider allowing them to grow vegetables since that will also teach them more about healthy food and provide more tangible results if they do it right.
Time outside is good for bones
Exposure to sunlight has many benefits for both kids and adults. Psychologically, it boosts mood and positive feelings. This is why it’s recommended to go outside for a walk on a sunny day when you are sad or troubled. There is also another reason the sun is good for you, and that is its ability to prevent vitamin D deficiency.
This vitamin is vital for the body to absorb calcium and improve bone health, especially in children. It’s also important for other body functions, like heart, gut, and immune system. However, spending time in the sun is not without consequence and can be harmful. Because of this, always apply sunscreen with the highest SPF on children and at least 30SPF on you when going outside. This and appropriate clothes, like hats and caps, can protect you enough from the side effects of the sun while giving you all the benefits.
Perfect family time
Going on a camping trip or just having a picnic in the park is a perfect way to have quality family time. Today, families have less than ever a time to spend together and build a better relationship with their members. Since children depend on their parents to teach them about the world and behaviour, this is an important part of growing up.
Moreover, it will strengthen family bonds, encourage communication, and help develop a positive mindset. Parents can also benefit from this by feeling less stressed, laughing more, soaking in more positive emotions, and just having fun. So, when the weekend comes, forget everything else and plan a day with your kids in nature. It will both do you good and give you a perfect way to escape the everyday chaos.
All in all
Nature has nurturing properties that offering amazing benefits to the whole family. Since people are too busy with responsibilities, they forget that sometimes it’s good to press the OFF switch and rest. Children also suffer from the same problem, with demanding school curriculums and a myriad of attention stealers, like games and apps. So, spending more time outdoors is good for all to clear their heads, boost their health, and avoid the pressure of the everyday world.
Sometimes a simple walk in the park will be fun for all and help you have much-needed family time. But other times, you should all pack your bags and go on a day trip to a national park to experience the full positive influence of nature on the physical and mental health.