Reasons to Get Outdoors All Year Long
There are many good reasons to get outdoors all year long, so we will look at the benefits of going outdoors even in the winter when it is cold! Spending time outside is particularly good for everyone’s health and one’s mental health as well. One can enjoy many physical, social and emotional benefits through various types of outdoor experiences.
Spending time outdoors has the following benefits:
- Health – There are benefits to heart health and immunity, and it is also the best way to get vitamin D. There is research to suggest that spending time in green spaces improves people’s lifespan. Being physically active reduces people’s risk for many diseases linked to a sedentary lifestyle (Twohig-Bennett & Jones, 2018).
- Mental Health – Regular time spent in nature reduces stress and anxiety and improves well-being. Access to green space as a child reduces the risk of mental health, psychiatric disorders and depression in adulthood (Burns et al., 2021; Twohig-Bennett & Jones, 2018).
- Concentration – Spending time outdoors and walking helps improve focus and productivity, particularly in green spaces.
- Sleep – Spending more time outside and being active can help us sleep better (Burns et al., 2021).
Meeting Children’s Needs – Benefits of going outdoors
Children need to get outdoors as the benefits can last through adulthood. However, according to the People and Nature Survey, since the Covid pandemic began, 60% of children in the UK have spent less time outside. This statistic is particularly concerning because of the long-term impacts on children’s health and well-being. In addition to the above, spending time outdoors also benefits children in the following ways:
- Physical Development – It allows children to be physically active and develop strength and coordination.
- Cognitive Development – There is a wide range of research showing that outdoor learning helps to improve children’s learning and achievement at school. Nature offers a rich environment where children can climb, construct and explore the properties of water and more (Wells, 2000).
- Education & Achievement– Children who spend more time outdoors are more likely to develop vocabulary, knowledge, understanding of the natural world and an appreciation of nature. Frequent outdoor experiences can support better engagement and achievement for pupils (Rios & Brewer, 2014; Arikan, 2021)
- Creativity – Outdoor play aids children in developing creative play (USDA Forest Service, 2001)
- Immunity / Microbiota – Exposure to environmental biodiversity is linked to developing a diverse microbiome and a well-functioning immune system (Roslund, et al., 2020).
These are all important reasons to ensure that you (and your children) get outdoors this winter! It does not have to be anything complicated. Going on walks, hikes or cycle rides is a wonderful way to start.Reasons to Get Outdoors – Benefits of Going Outdoors
You may want to see some of my ideas for outdoor learning such as Outdoor Maths Activities KS2, Outdoor Maths Activities KS1, Outdoor Maths Activities EYFS, Outdoor Mark Making Ideas, and Ideas to Teach Literacy Outdoors.
Burns, A.C., Saxena, R, Vetter, C., Phillips, A.J.K., Lane, J.M. & Caine, S.W. (2021) Time spent in outdoor light is associated with mood, sleep, and circadian rhythm-related outcomes: A cross-sectional and longitudinal study in over 400,000 UK Biobank participants. Journal of Affective Disorders, 295, 347-352.
José M. Rios & Jessica Brewer (2014) Outdoor Education and Science Achievement, Applied Environmental Education & Communication, 13:4, 234-240.
Kalender Arıkan (2021) A comparison of indoor and outdoor biology education: What is the effect on student knowledge, attitudes, and retention, Journal of Biological Education [online].
Roslund, M., Puhakka, R., Gronroos, M., Nurminen, N., Gazali, A., Cinek, O., Kramna, L., Siter, N., Vari, H., Soinine, L, Parajuli, A., Rajaniemi, J., Kinnunen, T., Laitinen, O., Hyoty, H., Sinkkonen (2020) Biodiversity intervention enhances immune regulation and health-associated commensal microbiota among daycare children, Science Advances, 6:2.
Twohig-Bennett & Jones (2018) The health benefits of the great outdoors: A systematic review and meta-analysis of greenspace exposure and health outcomes. Environmental Research, 166, 628-637.
USDA Forest Service (2001) ‘Trees for children: helping inner city children get a better start in life’, Technology Bulletin 7 (Pennsylania: USDA Forest Service).
Wells, N., M., (2000) ‘At home with nature: effects of “greenness” on children’s cognitive functioning’, Environment and Behaviour, 32:6, 775 – 795.