Confined within the house or classroom, your kids may become stir-crazy. Make sure they have an outlet for all their energy, and let them run free outside. Outdoor recreation has been scientifically linked to physical and mental health benefits. Nature can also serve as an outdoor classroom that teaches your children about wildlife and plant life. Regardless of where you live or how old your children are, there are many ways you can incorporate outdoor outings into your family’s routine.
Learn the Benefits of Nature
Time outdoors reaps many benefits that bolster mental and physical health. The mere act of frequent nature outings encourages exercise and an active lifestyle. The University of Essex studied the effects of colors in relation to exercise. The study found that the color green produces better results — less mood disturbances and lower feelings of exertion — than any other color. From this study, it was deduced that the greenery within nature provides an ideal setting for exercise.
Nature helps improve brain function and concentration within children. A study conducted by the National Center for Biology Information found that children with ADHD who spend time outdoors have lessened symptoms. Those who engage in the same activities indoors do not show the same increase of concentration.
The summer sun provides an ample amount of vitamin D, which increases your children’s bone and cell growth, increases their immune functions and provides them with energy. Make sure that your family wears sunscreen that is 30 SPF to be protected from skin damage or cancer.
Make It a Habit
Make outdoor recreation a habit for your family. Schedule time when you and your kids can take walks through your local parks, go on weekend hikes or try new outdoor activities. You can incorporate outdoor activity into your daily routine, even if you have smaller children with some simple solutions. For example, install a kid seat on your bicycle for regular rides around the neighborhood after dinner or to and from school.
The habit of outdoor recreation can be implemented in any environment or weather conditions. If you live in the city and nature isn’t as accessible, many cities have interurban trails or arboretums that are abundant in greenery. If you’re in a colder climate, there are a number of cold-weather activities you can take part in. Equip your kids with the right winter gear, and teach them about snow and ice safety so they can fully enjoy the outdoors in the winter.
There are plenty of outdoor activities that the entire family can enjoy. Excite and engage your kids with a variety of outdoor games that will keep them outside for as long as possible. Take your family to a park or some fields with a soccer ball for a friendly afternoon scrimmage. Purchase some small, multi-colored cones to place around the field for a game of frisbee golf.
Bird watching is an activity that provides your kids with outdoor time as well as an increased knowledge of all the varieties of birds. Research the best spots for bird watching in your area and bring along a picture guide and a journal. You and your child can make a game of how many types of birds you spot.
You can also take nature walks with your children to identify plants, trees, insects and wildlife. A number of handy outdoor apps will assist in your identification of all the life that lies within nature.