If ever we’re feeling stuck in a rut, a bit fed up or in need of some head space, a walk outside will usually help. Getting out and about in the fresh air does wonders for our mental and physical health and research has suggested that a two-hour “dose” of nature a week “significantly boosts health and wellbeing”. It’s considered so important that two hours outside a week could soon join official health advice alongside five portions of fruit and veg a day and 150 minutes of exercise a week.
The great thing about stepping out into nature is that it takes little planning and is available to everyone. Whether aged five or seventy-five, we all benefit from putting on our shoes, closing the door behind us and heading out in the fresh air.
Nature and the Younger Generations
Okay, so some children will take more persuading than others to get outside. But the benefits are undeniable. The unstructured nature of hiking national parks, outdoor play and the variation that it offers allows youngsters to choose how they wish to interact with the outdoor environment – in turn building their confidence. It allows for creativity and imagination and activates all their senses, not to mention it gets them moving and their blood pumping.
How we can Get Children Outside
Babies Life with a newborn is tough and walks outside will benefit both parent and baby – even if it does take hours to leave the house. To make your life easier, invest in a baby carrier – it’ll free your hands for that much needed cup of coffee and won’t restrict you to certain routes like when you’re pushing a pram.
Toddlers love being outdoors – that’s where the puddles are, after all. Make it even more fun by organising a scavenger hunt – they can search for sticks, stones, leaves, even spiders. It’ll give them focus and teach them new things, too. And why no try taking them to a Forest School toddler class, if you’ve got one nearby? Fun and mess guaranteed!
Fortunately, school curriculums cater to getting children outside – for instance, school trips are invaluable to older children , getting them outdoors, exploring and learning.
Nature and the Older Generations
Getting outside is just as important as we get older, keeping us active and boosting wellbeing. In fact, one care home put it to the test when they planned a month of outdoor adventures for their residents. They found that many of them, who have varying physical and mental disabilities, became “less agitated as they have spent more time outdoors focusing on wildlife”.
How we can Encourage the Elderly to get Outside
There is no end of exercise classes available to the elderly. With everything from dance, to Pilates, Zumba and walking clubs, there’s no excuse to not get outside and get the blood pumping.
Nobody should feel restricted, whatever their mental and physical ability. There are many special tours to be booked for seniors to get out exploring the country, and care homes will organise trips to get residents out and about. Such trips don’t need to be difficult – with the incredible range of mobility vehicles available these days, nowhere is out of bounds.