Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Simple Way to Good Health, Get Outside

I was reading today about the time kids spend outside compared to what they used to and I have read some of the Richard Louv's book, Last Child in the Woods, but these numbers startled me:

"Recent studies indicate that American children, on average, spend about 30 minutes of unstructured play time outdoors each week."

"A Hofstra University survey of 800 mothers, with children between the ages of 3 and 12, found that 70 percent of mothers reported playing outdoors every day when they were young, compared with only 31 percent of their children. Also, 56 percent of mothers reported that, when they were children, they remained outdoors for three hours at a time or longer, compared with only 22 percent of their children."

"In general, children ages 8 to 18 spend more time (44.5 hours per week) in front of computers, televisions and game screens than any other activity in their lives except sleeping, according to studies by the Kaiser Family Foundation."

All of those are amazing stats and also a cause for alarm. In the cliche old saying "back in the good ol' days" kids were always outside. Digging holes, playing in the sand, climbing trees, talking face to face with one another, etc... Now we (adults and children) make excuses to be stuck behind a screen. Whether it is a new show we want to watch or our favorite team is playing and we can attend live. We now live our lives through technology instead of going out and really experiencing it. As adults we not only need to tell kids to get outside but we need to as well.

Get outside, there are some amazing benefits of being active in the great outdoors (somewhat self explanatory but from this article):

  • Outdoor play increases fitness levels and builds active, healthy bodies, an important strategy in helping the one in three American kids who are obese get fit.
  • Spending time outside raises levels of Vitamin D, helping protect children from future bone problems, heart disease, diabetes and other health issues.
  • Being out there improves distance vision and lowers the chance of nearsightedness.
  • Exposure to natural settings may be widely effective in reducing ADHD symptoms.
  • Schools with environmental education programs score higher on standardized tests in math, reading, writing and listening.
  • Exposure to environment-based education significantly increases student performance on tests of their critical thinking skills.
  • Children’s stress levels fall within minutes of seeing green spaces.
  • Play protects children’s emotional development whereas loss of free time and a hurried lifestyle can contribute to anxiety and depression.
  • Nature makes you nicer, enhancing social interactions, value for community and close relationships."

Needless to say summer camp and retreats is a great opportunity for child to get outside, but just get outside, whether it is a walk or just going to the park. let your kids get a little dirty it is good for them and while they are at it. You get in there as well and play in the mud.

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