Remember how hard your mom used to work to get you off the TV and outside? She knew how vital outside time was for your physical, mental, and emotional development. Now, you are the parent. You know that you and your kids should get outside more, but the technological gadgets of today are even more compelling than the Saturday morning cartoons of yesteryear. If you need more evidence that getting outside with your kids is the right thing to do, read on!
Say Sayonara to Stress
Life is stressful for both kids and adults. There are a lot of pressures to be faced every single day, and most of us don’t do a very good job of managing our stress. One of the healthiest ways to combat stress is to spend some time outside. There is just something about the outdoors that helps us breathe more deeply, slow down our frenzied minds, and live in the moment. A plethora of research backs this up!
Harness More Solar Power
Soaking in the sun’s rays (with sunscreen, of course) offers a host of physical and emotional benefits. First, sunshine is a natural circadian rhythm regulator. It tells your body to decrease the amount of melatonin it produces in the morning and triggers increased melatonin production in the evening. This leads to better, more restful sleep.
Additionally, your body needs the sun to produce vitamin D. Vitamin D builds strong bones, inhibits cancer cells, reduces inflammation, and helps fight infection. Finally, getting plenty of sunshine can boost your mood and help stave off depression. This happens because sunshine increases your body’s serotonin levels, which is a natural mood regulator and happy hormone.
Sneak in Some Exercise
The great outdoors naturally lends itself to movement. Few people can sit still for long outside. In general, the play structures, lawn games, trails, and gardens are far too compelling to stay inactive. While being outside is beneficial in and of itself, if getting outdoors induces you to move your body a little more, so much the better! Exercise is like a miracle pill that reduces stress, improves cardiovascular health, boosts immune function, powers neurons, increases memory, lowers blood sugar, builds muscle, strengthens bones, increases self-confidence levels, and so much more.
Boost Your Energy
Studies show that simply being outside more can boost your energy levels. Once again, this is likely due to the sunshine-induced production of melatonin and serotonin. A morning dose of sunshine triggers your melatonin levels to drop, leaving you feeling awake and refreshed. Sunshine also promotes the production of serotonin, which fills your body with energy. At the same time that this surge of serotonin energizes you physically, it calms and focuses your mind as well.
Battle the Bugs
Being outside boosts your immunity and helps you battle the viruses that surround you in a couple of key ways: First, plants release phytoncides into the air. Phytoncides are organic compounds that somehow boost human immune function. Plus, the sun helps to power your T cells, which are major components in your body’s natural defense system against illness and infection. You may still have to deal with mosquitos and gnats, but no viruses or stomach bugs today!
If your doctor offered you a pill that would help you combat stress, sleep better, get more exercise, energize you, boost your mood, and stay healthier, would you take it? Of course, you would! In fact, you’d probably pay any amount of money to get in on that kind of power drug. What if you could achieve those same benefits simply by getting outside more? Knowing what you know now, will you let a single day pass you by without claiming the many therapeutic benefits of the great outdoors? Hopefully not.