AK Fam loves people who cherish the outdoors as much as we. My new friend, Jen Aist, author of both the Wilderness for Kids web site and forthcoming book, has this to say as an AKontheGO guest post-er. Jen is a lactation specialist at Providence Alaska Medical Center, and also teaches classes covering everything from breastfeeding babies to taking those same babies out in our Alaskan winters; and liking both. Jen also has children who have accompanied her on many an outdoor adventure, so she is a wealth of experience and information!
“Some time ago, REI’s catalog had a fabulous tag line: “Have an out-of-house experience”. Perfect. It is all too easy, so it seems, to stay inside after school or on the weekend. It seems like a lot of work to get dressed to go outdoors, especially in our sometimes less than sunny weather. But REI is right; we ALL should get outside, every day.
Why? What is the worth to donning layers of Gore-tex and polypro and hats and mittens when it is perfectly comfortable in your living room?
Let’s reflect, shall we?
1. H1N1 and other fun viruses love the indoors. One reason we experience more colds and flues in the wintertime is simply due to our lack of exposure to the outdoors. Indoor air circulation is a breeder and spreader of germs, and fresh air keeps those nasty bugs at bay, in turn keeping kids healthier. And while we’re at it; NO, one cannot catch a cold from being cold.
2. Prevention against obesity. A growing problem, pun intended, obesity is directly related to the amount of television children watch; did you know that? The Center for Disease Control recently stated that kids need to get outside and keep moving to prevent childhood obesity from becoming the next epidemic.
3. Emotional health benefits from the outdoors. Both kids and parents need a break from the everyday bustle of life. Nature provides a buffer, a safe zone, an restorative powers like none other. Lots of studies show kids and adults who experience stressful events benefit greatly from time spent outside. Try it, even if it means five minutes without the cell phone, sitting on a bench at a park. Just be.
4. Motor development improves with outdoor time. The best and most fun place to achieve skills of motor development is on the playground, in a park, or on a trail. Even better if the setting is natural as opposed to paved; uneven ground improves balance, coordination, and leads to creative play.
The benefits go on and on. Kids were made to play and grow outside. Start the practice today of an ‘out-of-house’ experience.”
We’ll be hearing more from Jen in the coming months. A big AK Fam thank you for your wonderful wisdom…