Last updated on March 20th, 2023 at 08:48 pm
I think we all enjoy spending time with nature–feeling the warm sun on our skin and breathing in that fresh outdoor air. But, did you know that there are actually some amazing health benefits to be gained when we spend more time outside?
When I was a kid, the warm weather had me racing out the door as soon as I washed my cereal bowl. I usually didn’t meander in through the back door again until the sun began to set and the mosquitoes began to bite.
On a snowy Saturday, I would suit up, grab a sled, and search out the nearest hill, staying out until my fingers and toes were numb.
Rainy days didn’t deter my outdoor adventures. In fact, they packed all sorts of new ones. What kid doesn’t love to splash in puddles?
Unfortunately, so many kids these days haven’t even experienced the joy of riding their bikes in the rain or exploring the nearby woods. Freely playing outside for hours at a time simply isn’t done often anymore.
There’s plenty of things we can blame for kids not spending time with nature and getting outside to play…
• “helicopter parenting”
• all the evil out in the world
• etc. etc.
But what we absolutely cannot deny, try as we may, are all the incredible benefits of spending time with nature. All of us, not just our kids, need to soak up the outdoors as much as possible.
Benefits of Spending Time With Nature
- Best source of Vitamin D. Supplements have nothing on sunshine. Vitamin D is incredibly important for preventing chronic diseases and even reducing certain cancer risks! With all-natural vitamin D, you’ll also strengthen your bones, prevent diabetes, and lower your risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
- Promotes a natural sleep pattern. With the artificial light we’re constantly exposed to throughout our days, our bodies get confused about when it’s time to wind down and sleep. When you spend regular time outdoors, your body clock begins to adjust to a natural pattern, thus giving you a better night’s sleep.
- Increases brain function. Studies have found that nature can reduce the symptoms of ADHD in children. Adults benefit in a similar way. Even admiring a natural view through a window or in a painting can amp up productivity and concentration. If you’re struggling with tackling that next big project, take a walk through a park because nature also enhances creativity.
- Boosts immunity. The Japanese call it forest bathing. When you spend time outdoors regularly, you’ll elevate the level of white blood cells in your blood. These white blood cells fight infection and tumor cells. You may also lower your blood pressure with a jaunt through the woods.
- Reduces stress and anxiety. Nature just makes us happier. Our bodies slow down when we spend time in nature, reducing the production of the stress hormone, cortisol. The outdoors can improve your mood and even boost your self-esteem. Take a weekend camping trip, and the stress relieving benefits will pour into the rest of your week.
With all of these benefits, and the incredible memories we made as children playing outdoors, it’s heartbreaking to learn that many children today prefer just about any activity (even homework!) over going outside. Most parents long for our kids to spend more time in nature.
Here are some ways you can encourage your children to get outside more often:
- Make it a family affair. Get outside together. Your attitude toward the outdoors will rub off on them. If you’re excited to go for a hike, they’ll soon get excited about it too!
- Limit the devices. Even as adults we can have serious difficulty putting down our iPhones. Our kids are very rarely going to choose playing outside over playing with their device or watching TV. When they don’t have constant access to a screen, they’re much more likely to find fun outdoors. [Read 6 Tips for Setting Screen-Time Boundaries]
- Schedule it in. Go for a family walk every evening after dinner, walk to school together, visit a different park every Sunday afternoon, plan a vacation in the mountains. Be intentional and make it a part of your every day life.
You are never too young or too old to reap the benefits of spending time with nature. With warm weather upon us, there’s no better time than now to get outdoors.