The Importance of Being Outdoors
Is your kid in dire need of some vitamin O? Especially now, with the summer upon us (well, here in the northern hemisphere), everyone is spending lots more time outside. Time outdoors is so crucial for all of us, and children especially. The importance of being outdoors, no matter what the weather is like, can’t be overstated.
Did you know that there are schools that are held completely outdoors? At these schools, learning takes place outside, no matter what the weather. They also do lots of great outdoor activities, like hiking, climbing, canoeing and more. These schools are all over the world and all over the country, though the best known one in the states is probably the one in Portland, Oregon
. This outdoor school encourages its students to respect the land, take responsibility for cultivating it and to bask in the opportunities that it affords. It’s available to kids with all different learning styles and abilities. Really, it sounds like something I would have really enjoyed growing up.
Image by eyeliam generously CC from Flickr
All this being said, maybe an outdoor school isn’t realistic for you and your family. Obviously, that’s totally ok, but time outdoors is still crucial. Our culture is obsessed with cleanliness, with our antibacterial soaps and wipes available everywhere and washing our hands maybe a bit too often. This is definitely cleanliness to a fault. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not bad to shower or to wash after using the restroom (crucial!!) but dirt is protective! The probiotics in dirt protects kids from asthma and allergies
and makes the brain work better. Dirt is also good for the gut and reduces inflammation. What’s not to like?
an awesome soil-based probiotic
from the company NOW. You can just open it up and sprinkle it onto your kids’ food or pour the contents into a smoothie. But even better than a probiotic is to get outside and get dirty.
Gardening offers a fantastic opportunity to play in the dirt. Children reap so many benefits:
- Self esteem
- Stress relief
- Heart health
- Brain health
- Immune regulation
- Mental health
Image by eyeliam generously CC from Flickr
Sunshine and Vitamin D
Very few foods in nature contain this essential vitamin. And remember – essential means that it cannot be made by the body. Some foods with vitamin D include fatty fish, such as mackerel, salmon and tuna, beef liver, cheese and egg yolks, although these last three only have vitamin D in small amounts. The sun, free to us all, provides us with an abundance of vitamin D, which is needed to absorb calcium and have strong bones. A severe deficiency in vitamin D is called rickets. Deficiency has also been linked to cancer, depression, obesity and heart disease.
Furthermore, vitamin D has been used to treat autism
, autoimmune disease
and other maladies. Every cell in the brain has receptors for vitamin D, cells which control how genetic information is to be used or expressed.
Do you know Katy from Katy Says? You should, if you don’t! She is all about restoring health through natural movement. She is a big advocate for kids going barefoot whenever possible outside. She doesn’t like seeing kids in heels – and she doesn’t mean high heels, she means any shoe with any kind of a heel. Being barefoot indoors is okay but to be barefoot outside in nature is where it’s at. Being barefoot out in nature bestows:
- Better balance
- Stronger feet
- Stronger stature
- Better posture
- Better circulation and
- All of the benefits of earthing
Earthing is about connecting with the Earth’s electrons and draining free radicals from the body. The body absorbs these electrons from the Earth through the soles of the feet. Earthing also has anti-inflammatory effects.
Read Stephen Sinatra’s groundbreaking book on Earthing to learn more.
Image by Andy Carter generously CC from Flickr
Obesity and Screens
It’s okay. Admit it. Someone (or someoneS) in your home are addicted to some kind of screen. I have a kid like this and I struggle with it myself. It’s pervasive in our times. The internet, computers, televisions, iPads, iPhones and more have done so much good for us, but there is a dark side to it all, as well.
In study after study, adolescent obesity has been correlated to screen time. Have you heard of the phrase “sitting is the new smoking”? It’s absolutely true.
Give serious thought to scheduling screen time for your children, if at all possible. I keep reading that “experts” say to limit screen time for children to two hours a day, which seems extremely excessive to me, but that’s just me.
With all this being said, get off the screen! Take your kid and go outside. 😉 Tell me what you think of all this. Barefeet outside? Am I nuts? Did the worms gross you out? Let me know in the comments!