You have likely seen advertisements promoting pills that can improve your children's health. Yet you may be wary of giving your kids medications that could affect their development. Luckily, there are ways to keep your kids healthy without resorting to pills. One simple solution is to have your children participate in outdoor activities.
Average American children typically spend seven hours in front of screens each day. Replacing some of that screen time with outdoor time can have several benefits for your kids:
Vitamin D Exposure
You probably know that too much sunshine can increase your risk of skin cancer. Yet too little sunshine is bad for kids, as well. That’s because sun exposure boosts the production of vitamin D, which has numerous crucial health benefits. Specifically, vitamin D aids in bone development and reduces the risk of chronic diseases.
Improved Immune Systems
Vitamin D also improves children's immunity. In fact, outdoor activities boost the immune system in a variety of ways. Outdoor lighting helps stimulate the pineal gland, which plays a role in fighting off diseases.
Even dirty activities such as playing in mud can help in this regard. Children who spend all of their time in super-clean environments don’t build up immunity to dangerous bacteria, parasites and viruses. As a result, they often develop asthma, allergies or auto-immune disorders. However, if you let your kids roll around in dirt, their bodies will get exposed to bacteria, which should make their immune systems stronger.
Better Physical And Mental Health
Outdoor activities have other physical benefits, as well. Kids can run and jump around, which burns calories and helps prevent obesity. Playing outside doesn't just improve children's physical health, either. It can also greatly boost their mental health. Outdoor activities such as hiking are often less structured than indoor ones. Letting your kids choose how they interact with nature can improve their overall confidence.
There is also evidence that outdoor play increases children's attention spans. Kids who spend time outside are more likely to stay focused on tasks for longer periods of time. Studies even show that outdoor exercise can reduce symptoms of ADD or ADHD.
Greater Critical Thinking Skills
Children are often in awe of the nature around them. Taking them outside will pique their curiosity, so they will ask more questions about the environment and animals.
Getting kids' brains working like this at an early age can only help them in the long run. In fact, students who participate in environmental education programs have significantly better critical thinking skills and get higher scores on standardized tests.
It is well documented that sleep improves a child's overall health. Yet it can be hard to give your kids enough sleep, especially if they have busy schedules. However, spending more time outdoors can lead to increased sleep in numerous ways.
For starters, kids who go outside in the morning are exposed to the natural light from the sun. This will make it easier for their bodies to tell when it is daytime, and when it is time to go to bed. Bright natural light also helps children stay alert during the day and fall asleep more easily at night.
Nature has also been shown to help children feel more relaxed. According to the Attention Restoration Theory, urban environments often force children to pay direct attention to what is around them. This, in turn, can tire their brains and add stress. However, natural environments encourage more a more pleasurable and effortless type of attention. This reduces stress, which, in turn, helps your kids sleep better. They also provide an opportunity to move their body around, unknowingly getting them to exercise without forcing them to, thus again improving their sleep.
Some parents fear that outdoor activities are dangerous. Yet this does not have to be the case. You just need to take the proper precautions. Make sure they have kids’ snow boots and other clothes that will prepare them for the elements. You should also keep an eye on them to ensure they are safe.
Letting your kids play outside has benefits for both you and your children. They can have fun enjoying nature, and you can feel better about their overall health and well-being.
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Paisley Hansen is a freelance writer and expert in health, fitness, and growing young. When she isn’t writing she can usually be found reading a good book or hitting the gym. She loves hearing from readers so feel free to contact her through Facebook.
Founder Ray Spotts has a passion for all things natural and has made a life study of nature as it relates to health and well-being. Ray became a forerunner bringing products to market that are extraordinarily effective and free from potentially harmful chemicals and additives. For this reason Ray formed Trusted Health Products, a company you can trust for clean, effective, and healthy products. Ray is an organic gardener, likes fishing, hiking, and teaching and mentoring people to start new businesses. You can get his book for free, “How To Succeed In Business Based On God’s Word,” at www.rayspotts.com.