Map, Compass & GPS

Map, Compass & GPS
Wild flowers along Fall Creek on the way to the Green Lakes - Oregon

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The Great Outdoors

Guest Post by Lee

The Great Outdoors: Why It's Great For the Whole Family

We all know that spending time outdoors plays an important role in living a healthy and fulfilling life. Ultimately, that's what we want for ourselves and our children, right? As our culture has nurtured its relationship with technology, our relationship with nature has been put on the backburner. With mental and physical disease on the rise, it is time to pay more attention to the fact that our often neglected relationship with nature could be a major contributing factor. There are many ways to reconcile this relationship, and the benefits are sure to be felt by the entire family and even the community around you. Adventuring outdoors can be a learning experience that is exciting and liberating, and there are plenty of things to do! But first, let's look at why outdoor play is important and how exactly you and your family can benefit from it.

The importance of outdoor play

Children and adults alike are spending more time indoors than outdoors on a daily basis, and it could be causing problems with their mental and physical health. According to Kenneth Wright, director of the Sleep and Chronobiology Laboratory at the University of Colorado, staying inside all day can contribute to difficulty sleeping, loss of appetite, and lower energy levels. Absorbing nutrients provided by the sun such as vitamin-D, aids in our bodies ability to more effectively regulate itself.

Since most of our indoor time is spent in front of a phone, television, or computer screen, children and adults are becoming less and less active. This can lead to weight gain, lethargy, and impaired vision. Richard Ryan, a professional psychologist suggests that even 20 minutes a day can make a large difference in vitality felt by both children and adults. Studies show that wilderness therapy, or outdoor behavioral healthcare, can help to address behavioural and mental health conditions using nature as a therapeutic tool. If you or your child are particularly restless or have a hard time focusing, spending more time outside could help in a number of ways. It also helps exercise imagination in children, facilitates social skills, and provides new learning experiences.

How to incorporate outdoor play into your family's lifestyle

There are many different ways to incorporate outdoor activity into your family’s lifestyle. Look up the parks in your immediate area and see if there are any of interest to you or your children. If you have the means to go on a big adventure, plan a trip to a National Park! You and your family can take in some incredible scenery and learn about a completely new environment. You may even have one close to you already!

If you want to embrace your creative side, come up with a scavenger hunt and get to exploring. You can even start a garden to be used as an educational tool. An added bonus is that your kids will be able to grow and eat their own food! Even indoor activities such as painting or playing an instrument can be enjoyed out in the yard or at a park. It's also a great idea to have quiet time outside as taking the time to tune in to your surroundings can have an instant calming effect on the body.

Whether it's building confidence, promoting creativity, or teaching responsibility, the benefits of outdoor play are many. Now more than ever it is important that we not only engage our children more in nature but ourselves as well. Spending time outdoors can bring a family closer, and there are lessons that are sure to be learned on everyone's part.

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