Number 1 son loves being outdoors. We are very fortunate to live in a small, rural village where I feel confident enough to allow him to play out; scootering around the village with his friends. It’s lovely seeing him experiencing life reminiscent of my own childhood, I remember the sense of freedom and independence ‘playing out’ gave me.
Latest research has revealed a concerning increase in mental ill health in UK children, in this mental health awareness week I thought I would do a bit of research to back up my personal hunch about the outdoors and found a very interesting article at www.outdoorclassroomday.com . The website gives 5 reasons to support the idea that regular periods of outdoor play are paramount for our children’s mental health. I have paraphrased them:
1. It gives children a break from busy schedules. Fresh air helps to clear our heads and enable us to relax. For children with busy school and hobby timetables the outdoors gives them the opportunity to relax and reflect.
2. Physical activity lowers anxiety. Lisa O’Keefe, who is the Sport England Insight Director, says “we now have conclusive evidence that sport and physical activity are clearly linked to mental wellbeing.”
3. It has a positive impact on mental health. One of the contributing factors to the state of children’s mental health has been linked to the lack of regular exposure to the outdoors and outdoor activities.
4. It helps kids top up on vitamin D. Vitamin D releases serotonin in the brain which helps to regulate emotion and mood and is linked to happiness. The best source of this important vitamin is natural sunlight. The lack of vitamin D has been linked to mental illnesses including depression.
5. The outdoors relieves stress and anxiety. According to the Outdoor Classroom Day website, even just 5 minutes of exercise in a natural outdoor environment can rapidly improve self-esteem, mental health and wellbeing in young people. Time spent playing out is thought to relieve stress by reducing the levels of the cortisol hormone in the brain.
What more encouragement do we need? Grab a den-making or bug hunting kit from my webstore and get out there making memories with your ch