The Healthy Communities Partnership: Lanark, Leeds and Grenville has identified two recommended actions, for our communities, in each of the priority areas:
Nature 4 Life!
Children Connected With Nature Are:
Happier: Outdoor nature play improves mood, self-esteem, cooperation and reduces stress, anxiety and depression.
Healthier: Nature play improves how kids’ bodies develop and grow. They become stronger and more coordinated, have better balance, and are more active.
Learning: Adventurous nature play allows kids to be more creative, learn to solve problems and manage risk. They have better focus and attention, so they are better learners at school.
The more high-tech our lives become, the more nature we need to achieve natural balance. Getting outside and playing reduces screen time (computer, television, phone). Unstructured/free play enhances learning.
Outdoor settings include: backyards, neighborhoods, schools, parks and wilderness.
Has David Suzuki found the answer to health and happiness? He prescribes a daily dose of nature to be happier, healthier, and smarter. That sounds easy enough, but could it possibly be true?
Recent studies have shown that being outdoors is good for us physically. We are more active, have less stress, and better balance and coordination. Children have better concentration and healthy eye development with less myopia (nearsightedness).
Our emotional health is better too. I am sure you will recognize that contented feeling you have after spending an afternoon outdoors. We can better cope with our stress and anxiety, our creativity and ability to problem solve improves and our empathy increases. Sounds like a path to healthy relationships! Children develop a sense of self and independence and have better self discipline, control and concentration, including children with ADHD.
Families benefit too, through more cooperative behavior and increased family bonding.
So, we are all now convinced that getting out is a good thing and something we plan to do more. Are there any resources for parents who are looking for some ideas of what to do or where to do it? First, you need look no further than your own back yard. Free time spent playing in your own yard or neighbourhood park will provide an excellent setting. If you are looking for something a little more adventurous, we just happen to live in an area rich in green space, parks, conservation areas, wetlands and trails. Your Municipality’s website is a great place to find local ‘happenings’.
To further this initiative, the Rural Recreation Association presented, on March 22nd, a ½ day workshop on Let’s GOGO! (Get Out in the Great Outdoors).
So Let’s all GOGO! And reap the benefits of health and happiness!
Please note: Some of these websites discuss how playing outdoors (or the lack thereof) can influence body weight. At the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit, we do not endorse statements that focus on weight/obesity as an indicator of physical health. Promoting healthy eating, physical activity and mental well-being for everyone, regardless of body shape and size, have been shown to support healthy living more effectively than focusing on weight. A focus on weight and calories can lead to weight bias and a number of negative health effects. At the Leeds, Grenville, and Lanark District Health Unit, we are working to change society's current emphasis on weight. We do this by promoting the positive areas of health and overall well-being, instead of the negative health risks and how we look. We help support healthy eating, physical activity, and mental well-being for everyone's overall health. Learn more about Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds here.