It surprises me how little time kids spend outside these days. When I was a kid I was outside all the time. I rode my bike for hours everyday, my best friend and I loved to walk in the woods, my brother and I would do our school work out on our paddle boat, in the summer we had many lemonade stands, and really most of my childhood memories are outside.
According to a study by the University of Minnesota unstructured free time has greatly decrease in the last 30 years. Unstructured outdoor activities have fallen by 50%. American children now spend an average of seven hours in front of electronic screens. And childhood obesity has more than doubled in the last 20 years, while many things are adding to those numbers, a decrease in childhood activity levels plays a big role.
Another problem for American children is vitamin D deficiency, a shocking 70% of children aren’t getting enough vitamin D. Low levels of vitamin D puts children at risk for many health problems including heart problems and diabetes. Vitamin D is required to absorb calcium and promotes healthy bones. Vitamin D also helps make us happier, a lack of vitamin D is linked to depression. Just 10-15 minutes a day can greatly boost the amount your body makes.
Another great reason to get outside is it helps children connect to nature and if they have that connection they are more likely to understand how important it is that we take care of it. There are many learning opportunities outside, your child can learn about science, nature, animals, and more.
There has also been a decrease in how much time families spend together so why not make time outside a family activity? It’s not just children that need more exercise and vitamin D, adults are lacking in both as well. There are many great things to do outside, riding bikes, walking the family dog (yes even dogs are more often obese these days!), playing sports, games like hide-n-seek, using sidewalk chalk, blowing bubbles, and so much more. This time outside will make your family healthier and happier.
If you don’t have children you can likely still use more time outside. Just last night my husband and I spent several minutes playing basketball outside. We got in some exercise, got vitamin D, and spent quality time together all at once. And the best part was, it was free. Doesn’t get much better than that.
Did you spend a lot of time outside as a child? Do you find that your children are spending less time outside than you did? What are your families favorite outside activities?
This is my post for Green Mom’s Carnival which is talking about “Inspiring Ideas for Getting Back to Nature with the Kids” this month. It is hosted at the Green Phone Booth and will be live on May 12 so be sure to check it out.
Photo credit: thisgeekredes