There are many factors, including electronics, safety concerns and overall perceptions, both parents working, increased homework assignments, structured after school activities and round the clock children's TV programming. While these factors aren't necessarily bad, they do sometimes serve as road blocks that may keep us from setting aside time to go outside. It is up to parents, caregivers, teachers and grandparents to make a conscious effort to show children that being in nature is just as important as dance practice and some may agree, their homework.
Imagine this: you're laying beneath the blue sky, there's a warm breeze and the sun is shining. You've got your eyes closed, and all you can hear is the sound of the waves and the children nearby making creations in the sand. Sound like paradise? There's a reason for it! Being outside is good for you. It is beneficial for your body, mind and soul. Here are five reasons to spend more time outside:
1. Gives Your Mind a Break
Being outside in nature, away from artificial light, technology, traffic and other distractions, gives your mind a rest and helps eliminate what is called directed-attention fatigue (DAF), which occurs when our brains are constantly trying to manage competing stimuli. It is important to set aside even just a few minutes a day to go outside, decompress and appreciate the beauty around you. You will be amazed at how refreshed and relaxed it will make you feel!
2. Reduces Stress
Not only is being outside pleasant, the benefits are scientifically proven. Studies have shown that natural environments can help reduce stress levels because our minds are relaxed, less tense and in turn we produce less cortisol- also known as the "stress hormone."
3. Decreases Anxiety
Germophobes may balk at this, but some studies have shown that helpful bacteria and microorganisms found in some sand and soil when ingested can positively effect hormone levels to decrease anxiety, improve cognitive function and improve your mood.
4. Improves Immune Function, Sleep Patterns and Muscular Endurance
As little as ten minutes per day of sun exposure can boost the body's production of white blood cells and vitamin D, which help to improve your mood, combat chronic disease, infections and even prevent certain types of cancer. Sunlight can also help to increase the oxygen carrying capacity of your blood, which can improve muscular endurance. Being in the sun can even help reset the body's internal clock, also known as circadian rhythm to help improve sleep patterns.
5. Helps Reduce Instances of Allergies
It is believed that individuals exposed to more biologically diverse environments such as forests and beaches were less likely to suffer from allergies. This has to do with the microbes which end up cohabiting inside of our bodies, improving and strengthening immune function.