In the last few decades, children are spending less and less time outdoors and more time cooped-up inside. You may remember playing outside until dinnertime as a child. More than ever, with all the technological distractions, it is important to encourage your family to spend time outside together. T
There are many proven benefits of outdoor activities on your children’s development. In addition, sharing outdoor activities together also strengthens your family bond. Whether it is planning a day trip to a state park or spending time in your own backyard, it makes no difference where you go, as long as you are outside.
In this technological age, it is hard to have some quality family time without someone being attached to their smartphone, tablet or laptop. I know from personal experience that my family (including myself) can spend a whole day glued to our various gadgets and only come up for air during mealtimes.
Spending time in nature is a great remedy to combat being gadget dependent for everyone in your family. Plan a day trip to somewhere that has limited reception and then declare that this trip is gadget free. You may hear some opposition, but once you get to the destination, everyone will be too busy looking out the window to remember to complain.
An increasingly popular alternative treatment for children with ADHD is a technique called “green time” or “green space therapy.” This method simply involves playing outdoors or activities that take place anywhere outside, whether it is a park or backyard. Environmental scientist believe that a child can increase their attention span by being in an environment that reduces many of the distractions that normally occur in their day to day life.
The American Journal of Public Health conducted a study which required them to interview 452 children with ADHD and their parents. The parents were asked whether the child’s attention changed depending on environmental settings, including indoor versus outdoor. It turns out that no matter the child’s age, where they lived or how severe their ADHD was, their symptoms improved when they were outdoors. Having a child with an attention disorder can be difficult, but spending time outdoors is a helpful solution that you both can enjoy.
In a study published in Landscape and Urban Planning, the stress hormone cortisol was measured in 25 Scottish adults. The subjects were asked questions about their daily lives and what stressed them out at home and at work. The results showed that adults living in greener spaces were less likely to be prone to daily stressors in their lives in comparison to their urban-dwelling counterparts.
I know that when my family and I spend the day outdoors, we are less likely to be snappy at one another and instead enjoy each other’s company. Another contributing factor is that spending time outdoors usually requires some physical activity, whether it is walking or hiking. Exercise has been known to be one of the leading techniques for stress reduction and is a win-win situation for you and your family.
It is estimated that over 85 percent of Americans are deficient in Vitamin D. Increasing your Vitamin D levels can help prevent chronic illnesses like cancer. Vitamin D also helps ward off everyday illnesses, like colds and the flu. The primary way we get our Vitamin D is by exposure to direct sunlight. You can tell a significant difference in your family’s overall physical health when you spend time outdoors, since there is noticeably less sneezing and coughing from all members.
Featured photo credit: Flickr via flickr.com
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