Summer is the natural time to go outdoors more. Plants are in full bloom, the days are long, and the weather is good. However, many parents worry because during the summer, their kids are inside even more than they are during the school year. The call of videogames and television are hard to compete with.
Being outdoors has amazing benefits, both mental and physical. Recent studies are finding surprising effects from even just a patch of grass. Consider taking a PE class during the summer to encourage your child to get outside and be active.
Mental Health Benefits of the Outdoors
1: Improves Memory
One test had subjects take a brief memory test before a walk. For half of the subjects, that walk was near a busy street. The other half took a walk through a green, nature-filled area. After the walk, subjects took another memory test to compare with the first. Those who had walked in nature showed significantly improved memory. They also reported lower feelings of stress and more happiness and well being.
2: Reduces Depressed Thoughts
Did you know that people actually have lower levels of mental illness if they’re close to nature? One study tried to figure out why by measuring the level of activity in a part of the brain that focuses on what they call “morbid rumination” – or brooding. Walks in nature take us out of self-berating cycles. Nature elevates and distracts our minds with other things.
3: Enables Better Relationships
Another surprising study evaluated the effect of trees and grass on families living in socially allocated housing. Since these families were randomly assigned locations – some close to trees, some enclosed solely by concrete – they made a perfect case study. In the end, they found that those families who were close to trees and grass had less conflict between family members and committed less crime.
Physical Health Benefits of the Outdoors:
1: More Effective Exercise
Some people greatly prefer to exercise in controlled conditions in the gym. However, those who exercise outside may be getting a better workout. For one thing, variables like wind resistance and variety in inclines challenge the body and mind more. For another, the effects of the outdoors on your mind can couple with your workout to create better feelings of vitality, pleasure, and self-esteem.
2: Better Eyesight
Studies have found that playing outdoors can have a direct correlation between a child’s risk of developing myopia, or nearsightedness. This might be because of the benefits of natural light, or it could be the challenge of constantly switching between distances keeps the eyes active and exercised. It could also be there’s less exposure to eye-harming technology. In any case, being outdoors more can reduce the need for glasses.
3: Sunlight and Vitamin D
Vitamin D is primarily gained through exposure to sunlight. This Vitamin leads to better bone health, and also increases our resistance to heart disease, diabetes, and even some kinds of cancer.
The benefits of nature are amazing and science has only just started scratching the surface! Did you know that time spent in nature can reduce the symptoms of ADHD in children as much as medication? Elderly people who live in walking distance to green spaces live longer than those enclosed in a city, even when you eliminate socioeconomic factors.
Make sure that your child gets the most out of summer by keeping them physically active and outdoors. One way to do this is to encourage them to enroll in a PE course during the summer. This can motivate them to explore new sports and activities, while getting school credit. Check out our course catalog to find the right option for your child.