Put Some “Spring” in Your Step!!
February 4, 2016 1:59 pm
March 20th is officially the first day of spring. This is the perfect time to get outside, breathe in some fresh air and shake off the “stillness” we have been stockpiling all winter. However, we all need to play outside more at any time of the year and guess what? This is especially true for our children!
Here are some facts to ponder. Research shows the average American inmate and the coveted free-range chicken spend more time outside than our children. Children spend an average of 7 hours a day with an electronic device, but only 30 minutes playing outside. The American Academy of Pediatrics only recommends 2 hours per day of screen time (cell phone, television, computer/tablet) for children over the age of 2. Boys tend to play outside more than girls and mothers are usually outside supervising their children more than fathers. Elementary schools have greatly reduced recess time by up to 50% in the last 20 years, while others have canceled it completely. But the benefits of being outside are amazing because they help to improve the physical, mental and cognitive development of children.
Here are just a few to consider:
• Children need the sunshine so they can absorb more Vitamin D. Vitamin D is important because it helps promote bone growth, calcium absorption and helps decrease the risk of heart disease and cancer.
• Playing outside burns calories. Childhood obesity has become one of the most widespread public health problems in the United States and research has proven that children who play outside for at least 60 minutes a day have lower obesity rates than children who typically stay indoors.
• Being outside helps to decrease depression, anxiety and stress.
• Research shows children who play outside are able to focus better, which benefits children diagnosed with ADHD.
So what can you do? Turn off the tablet, unplug the television and step outside with your children. Let them experience what it means to imagine, to play, to pretend. Let them look at nature in “real-time” and not via video or television. They may not want to step outside at first, but give them some time, keep encouraging them and eventually, they will be begging you to put some “spring in their step”!
Check out this link to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s “Strong 4 Life” campaign regarding outdoor activities. Plan something to do with your child today!