Doctor’s Orders, #OptOutside on Black Friday
Ask any Hike it Baby family and they will share the positive impact outdoor time has on their children and family as a whole.
“Our kids sleep better.”
“Everyone is in a better mood.”
“They gain confidence every time we hit the trail.”
“It helped me overcome postpartum depression and form a better bond with my child.”
Until recently, the evidence on the benefits of the outdoors was mostly anecdotal. But, huzzah, science! The studies and reports about the positive impact of time in nature keep rolling in.
- In evidence from more than 140 studies involving 290 million people, the University of East Anglia reports exposure to greenspace reduces the risk of type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, premature death, preterm birth, stress, and high blood pressure.
- Researchers at the University of Essex found that 9 out of 10 patients suffering from depression felt “higher self-esteem after a walk through a park.
- A University of Illinois study suggests that residents in Chicago public housing who had trees and green space around their building reported knowing more people, having stronger feelings of unity with neighbors, being more concerned with helping and supporting each other, and having stronger feelings of belonging than tenants in buildings without trees.
- A study in Mind found that 95% of those interviewed said their mood improved after spending time outside, changing from depressed, stressed, and anxious to more calm and balanced.
It’s Official, Going Outside is Good for You
It’s official – spending time in the outdoors is good for you. Really, really good for you. And we’re just talking about time outside of four walls. You don’t have to be bagging peaks, hiking epic trails, or spending months in the backcountry. Research done in hospitals, offices, and schools has found that even a simple plant in a room can have a significant impact on stress and anxiety. But, we’re Hike it Baby, so we’re here to encourage you to get your kids outside more often. You can start this Black Friday by choosing the outdoors over the indoors. Don’t worry, all of those great holiday deals will still be there on Cyber Monday.
What is #OptOutside?
#OptOutside began in 2015 when outdoor retailer REI chose to close on Black Friday. They gave their employees a paid day off and encouraged everyone to spend time outside instead of… well… shopping. This action has since turned into a movement and a widely popular social media hashtag. You can learn more about #OptOutside and the 2019 event here.
#OptOutside for Your Kids Sake
According to an article from Harvard University Medical, there are six, proven reasons children need outdoor play.
We need sun exposure to make vitamin D. Vitamin D plays a crucial role in many body processes, from bone development to our immune system.
Getting outside to play is one way to ensure children get the recommended one hour of daily activity. Additionally, active play, which takes place when kids are outdoors, is the ideal exercise for children.
Skills such as planning, prioritizing, troubleshooting, negotiation, multi-tasking, and even creativity are all developed through unstructured time, time with other children, and time where they must entertain themselves. Outdoor play gives children opportunities to practice these important life skills.
Children learn just as much from failure as they do from success. Natural areas present a number of opportunities for risk-taking. (More about risky play here.) Yes, as parents it may give us anxiety watching our child climb a tree or navigate rocks to cross a creek. But practicing risk-taking gives children the confidence to keep trying even when they fail.
If children only interact with other children through very structured settings, they won’t develop everything they need to know about working together. Outdoor time with other children, where they are making up games, choosing which way to turn on a trail, or helping each other with gear, will develop their abilities to make friends, share, cooperate, and learn how to treat others.
Appreciation of nature.
“If we want children to flourish, to become truly empowered, then let us allow them to love the earth before we ask them to save it.”
A cross-cultural research study by J.A. Palmer (1993) found that the single most important factor in developing personal concern for the environment was positive experiences in the outdoors during childhood. As David Sobel explains in his article “Beyond Ecophobia”, “Children are disconnected from the world outside their doors and connected with endangered animals and ecosystems through electronic media. Children are being exposed to frightening environmental issues at an early age, but are not first being given the opportunity to develop close personal connections with nature.” We are putting a lot of responsibility on the next generation to take care of our planet. If they never experience the benefits of nature they may never understand why it’s so important to save it.
Hike it Baby is working to make sure every child has access to nature. Help us in our mission to raise a generation that loves (and benefits from) the outdoors by considering a donation to Hike it Baby.
Many Hike it Baby branches are also hosting #OptOutside hikes on November 29, 2019. Getting outside with kids is easier when you have a supportive, inclusive community of like-minded parents and caregivers to #optoutside with. Join Hike it Baby for free today and find a hike near you!
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Photos courtesy of Brandi Rondinelli and Deanna Curry.