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Outdoor Playtime is Good for your Health!

One of my favorite things to do on the weekends is spend time outdoors with my family. So much so that it was one of our driving reasons to move to Oregon. Even in the rain the climate and accessibility to nature makes it something you can do year round. As long as you don’t mind rain gear. I’ve been trying to get really intentional about spending even more time outdoors during the week as well. 

Getting outside can be serious fun but it actually has some serious health benefits as well. So if the kids get dirtier than you really wanted them too keep in mind thatthey’re doing something that’s good for them too. Re-frame it and think of it as something that’s helping them stay healthy- at least for me just looking at it differently helped me be less bothered by the amount of gear and mess in the colder, wetter months.

First, it can help all of you calm down. So if you’ve been cooped up indoors during the cold winter months chances are you all have a little too much extra energy. Running around outside can help get the wiggles out but it also helps you feel more relaxed, peaceful and grounded. Going for a quick nature walk has become one of my go-to’s when my daughters are bickering and my head starts to feel like it’s going to explode. It’s truly amazing what a little fresh air can do for the soul. 

Making nature time a regular part of your life, preferably on a daily basis, has evenbeen shown in studies to help kids concentrate and focus. They also have fewer symptoms of ADHD when compared to kids that spend their afternoons and weekends playing indoors. According to the Natural Learning Initiative there are several more reasons to get your kids outside. These include: supporting creativity and problem solving, enhancing cognitive abilities, improving academicperformance, promoting physical activity, reducing stress, improving eyesight, self-discipline and social relations.

Personally I believe any time kids get to spend outdoors versus indoors is great and a whole lot of fun but playing on a play structure at the park wont exactly get you the same benefits. Instead try to find a “natural area”. Someplace with trees to run around in or climb, rocks to lift up, a stream to poke a stick in, leaves to pick up, critters to watch-anything that lets them use their imagination and get moving in a real, natural environment.

I like to aim for at least thirty minutes of outdoor, nature time a day. In a perfect world id love to do 2 hours a day but with so many other things going on I’m happy to get that in on the weekends. 

Oregon makes getting outside easy but with a little creativity you can work it into your life no matter where you are, even if it’s just your backyard with some trees to climb, mud to play in and sticks to build with. I promise that not matter what you do you’ll  all have fun and benefit from your time outside.

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