9 surprising reasons for kids to get outside this summer

Flickr, Kevin Conor Keller

For many kids, summer means time out of the classroom and into the sunshine. But between camps, vacations and video games, they may not be getting all the fresh air they could use.

Numerous studies are continuing to show how those who spend time outdoors are reaping the plentiful benefits. This evidence shows that a good dose of time in wild lands could help kids in some unexpected ways.

Here are some surprising reasons for kids to get outside this summer:

1. Less stress. Those of us who escape to wild lands regularly know that those adventures seems to wash away our daily cares, but research has proved its true too. And for those of you who think kids don’t get stressed, remember that not only are kids often juggling several extracurricular activities, but their performance in school is being increasingly scrutinized. Being outside helps them remember that they are still kids. Studies have also shown that time in nature can actually be a predictor for happiness.

2. Increased attentiveness. Skip the Ritalin - a study has found that kids with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) had improved concentration after just a simple walk in the park.

3. Better sleep. Getting sunlight in the morning helps us sleep better at night, according to the National Sleep Foundation. A study has also found that being outdoors overnight helps reset our clocks, so camping may be a good idea.

4. Improved vision. In the past few decades rates of nearsightedness have been rising, while the time children are spending outside is falling. Using distance vision may be the difference, says David Hunter, clinical spokesman for the American Academy of Ophthalmology, who also claims that outdoor light may aid in the development of the eye (sunglasses are still important).

5. Building of crucial life skills. New research has found that free time during childhood is linked to adult social success, self-esteem and the flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances. Being outdoors creates unparalleled social opportunities, especially in the West.

6. Enhanced learning and creativity. A study showed that mental abilities improve by up to 50% after a hike. Another study that looked at kids in particular showed that physical activity improves thinking and maybe even school performance

7. Reduced violence and crime. Research has shown that natural play environments encourages socialization based upon language and imagination rather than physical prowess, thereby reducing bullying. Recreation has also been shown to reduce deviant behavior and gang violence among teenagers.

8. Doctor’s orders. Really? Yep, really. Doctors in D.C. are issuing prescriptions to patients to encourage them to reap the numerous health benefits from being active. outdoors. Furthermore, it may boost immunity, preventing illness.

9. More defenders of wild lands. The more children know the Great Outdoors, the more likely they are to respect and value our wildlands. This respect helps create future conservationists, or those who support conservation initiatives in their communities. Simply put, time in nature fosters conservation attitudes - ensuring that America’s precious wild lands will be treasured and protected by the future generations.

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