Most people say they love the outdoors, but if actions speak louder than words, apparently most Americans HATE the outdoors. We are rarely outside and it’s affecting our health- including our mental health. Read the excerpt below to see how.
Children who get more “vitamin G”–what experts call time spent in green spaces–have lower stress levels, more success in school, and fewer ADHD symptoms. And simply being in sunlight triggers skin to make vitamin D, which is shaping up to be a potent cancer fighter.
“We may also exercise and socialize more in nature–activities with proven health benefits,” says Frances Kuo, PhD, director of the Landscape and Human Health Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Even in the bleakest Chicago housing projects, the addition of just a few trees cut crime by 42% in one study, encouraging people to venture out.
So get moving: Here are six ways your family can capture the benefits of an I-love-summer lifestyle.
Make Outdoor Play Mandatory
The National Wildlife Federation urges parents to institute an outdoor “green hour” for kids. Start by suggesting just one more activity each weekend–a family bike ride or an after-dinner walk. Next, add a weekday event. Some other ideas (find more at greenhour.org):
- Invest in fun boots and let kids splash in puddles.
- Pack a picnic snack and dine in a shady spot.
- Look for constellations or catch fireflies at night.
Besides getting fresh air and exercise, kids who garden eat more vegetables, research shows. Plus, a study of 647 grade-schoolers found that students who grew plants scored about 12% higher on academic tests, compared with those who didn’t. To make it fun for everyone, choose easy, hardy crops, like squash, tomatoes, and radishes. Visit kidsgardening.org for more advice on getting started.
Source: “The Fresh-Air Fix.” By Sarah Mahoney. http://www.prevention.com