Posts Tagged ‘benefits of playing outdoors’

Get Outside at Any Age

The weather is warming up, the sun is out, and we Michiganders are beginning to venture outside after the long, gray winter.

Have you ever spent the day outside doing something, anything, and felt better afterward? Turns out, there’s a scientific reason for that. Numerous studies have shown that spending time outside, or even just looking out a window at a nature-filled view, has tons of benefits for our physical and mental health.

Unfortunately, as we get older, the motivation to go outside decreases. There’s no time, you have no energy, you don’t know what to do. As age progresses physical limitations get in the way too. Yet the older we get, the more important it is to get out and move.

Age should not be a limiting factor. You can enjoy yourself and feel better no matter how old you are, just like this video by Attn: and REI shows.

 

Don’t believe the video? How about Harvard?

Spending time outdoors is good for you, from the Harvard Health Letter

Published: July, 2010

Summer is here. The outdoors beckons. Heed that call and you’ll reap physical and mental health benefits, reports the July 2010 issue of the Harvard Health Letter. Here are five good reasons to get outdoors:

Your vitamin D levels rise. Sunlight hitting the skin begins a process that leads to the creation and activation of vitamin D. Studies suggest that this vitamin helps fight certain conditions, from osteoporosis and cancer to depression and heart attacks. Limited sun exposure (don’t overdo it), supplemented with vitamin D pills if necessary, is a good regimen.

You’ll get more exercise. If you make getting outside a goal, that should mean less time in front of the television and computer and more time walking and doing other things that put the body in motion.

You’ll be happier. Light tends to elevate people’s mood, and there’s usually more light available outside than in. Physical activity has been shown to help people relax and cheer up, so if being outside replaces inactive pursuits with active ones, it might also mean more smiles.

Your concentration will improve. Children with ADHD seem to focus better after being outdoors. It might be a stretch to say that applies to adults, but if you have trouble concentrating, outdoor activity may help.

You may heal faster. In one study, people recovering from spinal surgery experienced less pain and stress and took fewer pain medications when they were exposed to natural light. An older study showed that the view out the window (trees vs. a brick wall) helped recovery in the hospital.

Read the full-length article: “A prescription for better health—go alfresco”

 

We hope you get out and enjoy the outdoors this year. Whether that means taking a bike ride across the state, staying home gardening in your yard, or anything and everything in between. We have a beautiful state Michigan, let’s have fun in it!

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Why Kids Should Play Outdoors

8 science-backed reasons for letting your kids play outdoors

nature

The average American boy or girl spends as few as 30 minutes in unstructured outdoor play each day. Only 6% of children nine to 13 play outside on their own in a typical week.  

But if you’re reading this, you probably already know that outdoor play is essential for children’s health and well-being. Here are eight science-backed reasons that prove you’re right.


1. Better vision – Multiple studies show that sunshine and the natural light of outdoors lowers the chance of nearsightedness and improves distance vision in children. Kids who spent more time outside had better distance vision than those who prefer indoor activities. A recent study from Ohio State University College of Optometry says that 14 hours a week of outdoor light is effective for better vision.

2. Better resistance to disease Multiple studies show that playing in the dirt (soil) outdoors helps kids stay healthy. Bacteria, viruses and other gross things in the soil actually help the immune system, and brain develop. Playing the dirt can also improve a child’s mood and reduce anxiety and stress.

3. Increased Vitamin D – It’s difficult to get enough of this nutrient strictly from food. 80 to 90 percent of our vitamin D actually comes from sunshine. Sensible unprotected sun exposure of 10 to 15 minutes will do it. After the first 10 – 15 minute exposure, it’s best to cover up with sunscreen.

4. Less Stress –  More than 100 research studies have shown that outdoor recreation reduces stress. This comes from a combination of factors producing positive physiological and psychological responses.

Also, in this poll, 90 percent of kids who spent time outside said being in nature and taking part in outdoor activities helped relieve stress.

 5. Better attention spans, even for kids with ADHD symptoms –  Several studies done by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign show that natural settings and green outdoor activities reduced ADHD symptoms in children. Activities outdoors specifically had greater positive impact than other settings. These positive effects are measured in children as young as age five.

A 2008 study at the University of Michigan found that memory performance and attention spans improved by 20 percent after subjects spent an hour out in the nature.

Likewise, 78%  of educators in a large survey reported that “children who spend regular time in unstructured outdoor play are better able to concentrate and perform better in the classroom.”

6. Better physical fitness – Outdoor play increases fitness levels and builds active, healthy bodies. One in three American kids who are obese. Running around, climbing, walking, exploring, and getting dirty burn calories and strengthen growing bodies.

Bonus: there’s ample evidence linking physical fitness and academic achievement.

Likewise, there’s evidence that simply taking a stroll outside increases creativity.

7. Better physical coordination –  Another way to say this is  better sensory skills. Playing outside involves uneven surfaces, rocks, branches, holds and unstable surfaces like gravel, sand and mud. Playing around these elements takes balance, agility, dexterity, and depth perception.

8. Better classroom performance – Multiple studies show that kids who spend time outside (including during the school day) do better in all academic subjects.

Exposure to environment-based education significantly increases student performance on tests of their critical thinking skills.

Factoring out other variables, studies of students in California and nationwide show that schools that use outdoor classrooms and other forms of nature-based experiential education produce significant student gains in social studies, science, language arts, and math. For example, one study found that students in outdoor science programs improved their science testing scores by 27 percent.

BONUS POINTS!

9. Spark curiosity & imagination – As kids grow, indoor environments become known, understood, and familiar. However, outside environments are dynamic and ever-changing. They are outside our control. As such, they invite the mind to wander, looking, observing.

10. Better nature literacy and local understanding – From TV, movies, books and apps, many kids know a lot about dinosaurs, pandas and sharks.  Bringing them outside lets them explore and learn about their own local ecosystem. Kids take immense, healthy pride from learning the names of the plants and animals in their own neighborhood.