Benefits of Outdoor Play
Healthier heart and lungs
Improves cognition and focus
Taking short breaks from work or school to spend time in nature calms the prefrontal coretx to lower stress and improve focus
Fosters sense of well-being
A break from devices
A growing body of literature continually points to the healing effects of green space. Studies have shown that time spent in nature improves cognition, mood, attention, white blood cell count and blood pressure, affecting outcomes related to obesity, depression, anxiety, ADHD, diabetes & hypertension. In some cases, mindfulness in nature has proven to be more effective than traditional therapy for anxiety. The concept of spending quality time in nature is simple, but its impact on both mind and body can be profound.
In an effort to improve the health and wellness of Philadelphia families, Prescribe Outside aims to connect participants with safe, accessible, and convenient public green space. To make the most of your time outside, keep these tips in mind:
Playing It Safe
From Vitamin D production to regulation of circadian rhythms for better sleep, sunlight plays a vital role in our health and well-being. While 10-15 minutes of sun exposure a day can be highly beneficial, it is equally important to wear sun protection including sunscreen, hats, and eye-wear to avoid overexposure to ultraviolet radiation. Additionally, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and seek shade when the sun is strongest (between 10AM and 4PM). Keep this balanced approach in mind and you’ll find yourself with a sunnier disposition in no time. For more information on sun safety, check out these resources from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Take a Hike!
Whether a walk in the woods, a stretch in the park, or a scavenger hunt in the garden, physical activity in green spaces can reduce stress, improve mood, and even lower blood pressure. While each individual’s level of physical activity may vary, it’s also important to consider your environment, including the impact of air quality. To keep your children active while also protecting their health, check out this resource from the EPA, which shows when and how to modify outdoor physical activity based on the Air Quality Index.
Get Your Hands Dirty!
Research shows that children who are exposed to soil build healthier immune systems and are less prone to asthma, inflammation, and autoimmune diseases. Additionally, the act of digging itself helps promote both fine and gross motor skills. So whether your child enjoys making mud pies or growing tomatoes in a raised bed, we encourage you to dig in. Just remember to wash your hands after time spent outside, leave shoes at the door to reduce tracking germs inside, and properly clean home-grown fruits or vegetables before eating. These simple tips will help you maximize the benefits of dirt and minimize concerns such as lead exposure, especially in urban environments. For more information on how to reduce risk of lead exposure, check out this resource from the EPA.