Why Being Outdoors is the Best Thing for Kids’ Health
If there is one goal every parent has for their kids during the summer, it’s for them to take advantage of the good weather by getting outdoors and off their screens. Summer camp, thankfully, makes this easy to achieve, so campers can reap the real health benefits of being outdoors.
Many studies show that taking a walk outside can help boost your mood. Called “green exercise,” or “forest bathing” when it takes place in the woods, a simple nature walk has been proven to lower inflammation, fight depression and anxiety, and lower blood pressure.
Considering the weekly hikes we take, our daily activities on our outdoor adventure course— not to mention our overnight and multi-day camping trips and simply being surrounded by the White Mountains of New Hampshire for weeks on end—our campers are essentially forest bathing every waking hour at camp!
Being Outdoors Offers Special Health Benefits For Kids
Time outside can actually decrease a child’s risk of near-sightedness or myopia, while nature walks can help young kids learn how to focus better. In a study of children with ADHD, those who took a 20-minute walk in a city park—as opposed to more urban settings—were better able to concentrate afterward.
Have you ever come up with a new idea after a walk outside? You may have nature to thank. Research shows that being surrounded by the natural world is more conducive to problem-solving than sitting indoors. After spending four days immersed in nature, a group in one study boosted their creative problem-solving abilities by 50%. The researchers concluded that it was the emotionally positive, low-arousing stimuli of the outdoors that helped counteract the constant switching between tasks and the attention-grabbing nature of technology.
Being outdoors can even help you exercise more strenuously than if you went to an indoor gym! In one study of Austrians hiking through the Alps, “almost all the participants reported that the outdoor effort had felt less strenuous to them than their time on the treadmill”—even though their Alpine mountain hike was a much tougher workout.
Kids ages 8 and under spend roughly two hours and 19 minutes a day on screens. For 8 to 12 years olds and tweens, double those hours! (Yikes!) All that time comes at a cost to outdoor play, which has dropped dramatically compared to our own childhoods (this British survey found that kids today spend 50% less time outdoors than their parents did).
All the mental health experts and medical researchers seem to agree.