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Promoting A Healthy Lifestyle in Children: Why Outdoor Activities Are Crucial

When my son was ten months old, we traveled to visit his grandparents. About one hour into the trip, he started to cry. Then scream. Then shriek. After trying all of my new mom tricks, I eventually begged my husband to pull over where I unstrapped him and plopped him in a small patch of grass behind a gas station. Much to our delighted ears, he stopped crying! Grasping onto a few blades of dewy grass he was quickly and magically occupied with the small bugs, light breeze, and dancing clouds.

I think of that experience often when our family is starting to annoy each other. Have we been inside too long? Yes! The answer is always yes. Get outside and experience immediate relief while getting some of that sunshine.

Activate Imagination

Image courtesy of Rebel Without A Pause

Exploring the outdoors activates the imagination of all ages. When children are roaming their own corridors, looking at the same toys, or worse, at the same screen, they tend to recreate the same scenes. Instead, put on some sunscreen and head out the door. They might complain at first, but pretty soon, your children will be Lewis and Clark in their makeshift wagons, or walking the plank with that broken tree branch, or making raspberry tea from the fresh bush. The ever-changing wonder of the outdoors triggers children’s imaginations in exciting ways.

Get Some Fresh Air and Vitamin D

Image courtesy of Restoration Church

I think we are all familiar with the pent-up frustration of cabin fever. But did you know that we also receive tremendous physical benefits from the sun? Vitamin D received through the sun helps prevent cancer and strengthens bones. The fresh air can help motivate children to move and this exercise ensures their fitness appropriate weight. Getting some sunshine will have a wonderful effect on your psyche, too.

Foster a Love of the Environment

Image Courtesy of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah

One of the greatest joys of taking children outside is helping them become stewards of the Earth. Fostering a love and respect for nature helps us all realize we are part of a larger ecosystem of interrelated organisms. With their own eyes, children can see with the deer eating the flowers and the squirrels scavenging for nuts. Witnessing such life can show kids that the Earth’s creatures rely on each other. This translates to an understanding of their own role in Mother Nature.

The next time your child says “I’m bored” or “can I be on my screen?” encourage them to head outside to nature’s playground while getting some of that sunshine.

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