As parents, we want to set our kids up for success. Every tool within our grasp, we will use it. To that point, we avoid their suffering with every ounce of our being. Getting our kiddos outside is just one of these tools. The modern life has us seemingly locked indoors for way too much time, ourselves and our children really need to get outside more for the benefit of our and their longevity, ability to cope with stressors, and overall success. There are many reasons being out in the natural world as much as possible is a necessity, but let’s start with the big five.
We want our kids to be confident. We need them to be confident. There are infinite ways to increase confidence regardless of environment, however being outdoors offers a package deal. Being outside brings its own unique challenges and rewards that cannot be replicated in the living room. Tumbling on the ground, climbing trees, fun physical competitions with other children, and playing catch, all are examples of activities that help define talents and limitations in just about anyone. Kids learning their talents mentally and physically are obvious benefits, but a young person learning their own limitations helps them to know what needs work and/or what types of situations they should be avoiding as they grow and develop.
For a little person, there is nothing like an open field to give space for a nice game of tag or a simple, explosive bolt across the green and (hopefully) back.
By the way, have you ever noticed how you might feel less self-conscious when you are outside vs. being inside?
Everything about being outside improves the feeling of well-being. That’s a feeling that releases chemicals in the body that make you happy. Enough happiness over time, trains the mind and body for happiness that can carry on for a lifetime.
Improves Physical Health Over Time
The human body requires stress in order to grow, toughen, and strengthen among other adaptations. Physical activity gives the body variety in motion which is required to signal muscles in the body to begin adaptations. On the contrary, look at a kid that sits down all the time. The only muscles getting signals to develop are those that will be enforcing the “hunched over” look.
Compare the structural differences in athletes to those of people who sit at a desk all day. We aren’t necessarily comparing physical statures like musculature or tone, but the base structure and balance of development over the entire body. It is notably different. There is also a psychological effect on people whose posture is less than optimal or structurally sound. There is a loss of feeling well in the simple inability to stand up straight.
The bones of young people are growing and adapting to their level of activity. The body is smart and uses resources where it is instructed to do so by the mind and biochemical reactions. These signals are created by the physical stress of exercise and play. If a kid is not running and jumping putting pressure on the bones, the bones have no reason to increase in density. The body essentially assumes the minerals that increase body density can be used somewhere else. The density of bones in youth carries on to adulthood. While adults can lose much of their bone density for many reasons, an active childhood sets that same adult up for improved circumstances even when those circumstances become prime for poor physical condition.
Builds Connections to the Outdoors
For many people in modern societies, work is indoors. For kids, school is indoors. There is significantly less play time in comparison to desk time. Less than 100 hundred years ago, being outdoors was a requirement. To get food from the garden or local store, to go anywhere, people walked to those destinations. The business of insurance was people helping each other out with physical work that took place outdoors. Farming is close to 10,000 years old. Before that humans where nomads, moving with the seasons, following food around, and learning to use the natural world around them. That was nearly permanently outside, except for caves, huts, or some type of coverings made from trees that were small due to their temporary nature. In other words, the human body evolved from being engaged with the unpleasant extremes AND wonderful blessings of the outside world. We’ve had 100 years to adapt to the extreme difference of lifestyles from being inside most of the time doing “back breaking” desk work. That’s not enough time for our bodies to adapt to this ongoing condition.
Recall how wonderful it felt to put your feet in the sand on a beach or on soft green grass in the yard. It was more than a tactile sensation. Something seems beautiful about it. Connecting to the soil on the planet connects the human bodies frequency to the frequency of the Earth. If that sounds hokey, just remember from chemistry class, everything vibrates to its own frequency which is determined by its chemical make-up (simply put).
Herbalist have a different connection with the natural world. It’s emotional and spiritual in a way that someone who hasn’t delved into the nutritive powers of plants can only imagine. This connection seems inherent upon learning plants and animals that constantly change and benefit the world around you. Just being able to recognize a few native plants that are health providing is like seeing someone you know and adore when you are out and about.
Kids growing up without experiencing these things may not know what they are missing when they do grow up. The outside world introduces people to a constant bout of happiness that, remember when I mentioned above, needs to happen regularly for an adult to grow as happy as they can be. The more they are introduced to connecting to nature as children, the more they’ll continue to connect as adults.
Improves Immune System
Exposure is required for a stronger immune system. Exposure indoors while around other people is one type of exposure that can rival all other environments depending on the situation, daycares, for example. The outside world brings different exposures. What you are exposed to outside depends on where you are and what elements and living things are around that area. In other words, it is safe to assume being around people in close quarters is good for a portion of your immunity and being outdoors is good for the rest (granted those situations aren’t dangerous).
The skin has a major function of converting sunlight into vitamin D. Vitamin D is vital to the immune system as well as many other functions in the body and mind. Modern society is notoriously low in Vitamin D which is why cereals and dairy products are Vitamin D fortified. Getting some rays regularly holds many physical and mental benefits. If you are concerned about too much exposure and want to avoid the harmful sun rays, go out in the morning or evening sun when the sun light is not so direct.
That’s Our Big 5 Benefits for Getting Outside
Being outside is the most natural thing that is both easy to do and accessible to nearly everyone. Life is busy and so very stressful, but if you and your child can get outside even for just a few minutes each day, you will both feel the incredible benefits of the sun, ground, environment, fresh air, and so much more the natural world has to offer.