Benefits of Nature
While your kids are out of school for the summer, getting outside and exploring nature is a fun way to stay healthy and active while providing other lesser thought about benefits. Whether hiking, skipping rocks across a pond, playing at a local park, or just taking a walk through the woods, spending time in nature has many benefits. If you are looking for ways to get your child to spend time outdoors, it can be made into a game with the 5-4-3-2-1 exercise. When outside, try to notice five things you can see, four things you can touch or feel, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste.
The most obvious benefit of getting outside is the promotion of physical activity. Children are recommended to receive at least one hour of physical activity daily, which can improve overall health. Hiking, walking, running, jumping, skipping, and climbing are all great ways to get in aerobic exercises. With physical inactivity becoming a growing epidemic in the United States, even at home in North Carolina, getting the recommended amount of physical activity is important to living a healthy lifestyle.
Spending time in nature can also reduce stress, anger, and anxiety and increase happiness by taking the mind off of life’s problems. Getting outside not only takes your child out of stressful environments, but also can improve attention spans. When your child is outside, his attention is focused on his surroundings such as the scenery or the air. Spending time outside can make your child feel more in touch with herself which can boost happiness in the short term. The more time spent outside, the more those emotions compound. Unplugging from electronic devices and their distractions can aid to the time spent outside. Nature is a chance to get away from a screen and focus on the world around us.
Getting outdoors is also an opportunity for children to be social, especially in public parks, trails, beaches, or lakes. Meeting new people can engage children in social situations that they have yet to face or present new opportunities to socialize with a child they otherwise would not. Even inviting a friend to take a walk, play soccer in the grass, or take a hike can be a great way to catch up and connect with one another.
Going outside can also increase your immune system through an increase absorption of vitamin D and exposure to outdoor air. Breathing air from the outside means that your child does not have to rebreathe the germs and bacteria of the indoors, which can spread infection. Meanwhile, exposure to the sun can increase a child’s vitamin D intake which also boosts immune system functions.
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