Written by Hannah Edstrom
In case you are looking for an excuse to get out right now, I present this extremely useful post.
1. Not enough outdoor light exposure is connected to myopia.
No joke. Playing outside exposes kids to natural light, slowing myopia in kids that already have it. And exposure to natural light early in life reduces the risk of myopia later on. Now, I realize that I am no longer a kid but I have no qualms explaining my outdoor time with “eye health.” We in research call this “cherry-picking the data” and it is typically not encouraged.
Of course, another benefit of natural light (and reduced artificial light during off-hours) is better sleep due to a more synced up circadian rhythm.
2. Climbing trees is better for you than jungle gyms.
Going outside to walk, climb, and explore is good exercise, and it’s calming. (Again, no joke; shinrin yoku, or forest-bathing, started in Japan when the world discovered physiological & psychological health benefits that outdoorsy folk knew all along.) In kids, climbing trees contributes more to motor fitness and development than an artificial playground. So go ahead. Go climb a tree, noticing every sight, smell, touch, sound, even taste and you will find your brain in a more relaxed state, your muscles stronger, and if you’re also six, you’ll notice improved motor fitness development as well.
3. Exposure to good bacteria is good for you.
This is good bacteria, mind you. I’m not saying to go find a wild animal or mysterious carcass and just touch it. But you are a microbiome – many bacterial habitats, that is – and it makes you a healthier person. So get outside and get your hands dirty; it may boost your immune regulation.
So, get outside, and take a deep breath. Every once in a while I need a reminder to step back and appreciate the beauty around me.