Why Spending Time Outside Matters

family outsideLet’s face it. Most of us spend a portion of our day looking at a screen of some form – computers, tablets, the latest smartphone. Technologically speaking, we are more connected than we have ever been. We get news 24/7. We can watch videos on just about anything with a quick internet search.

But good, old “face time” no longer means having a conversation in person. And more and more parents are struggling to get their children to put down their “screens” and go play. While being “plugged in” has its perks, it can be distracting and exhausting if you and your family don’t take breaks every now and then.

Our remedy? Go outside.

Yes, it’s as simple as opening your door and leaving the cyber world behind (for a little while, anyways). And you may be surprised how refreshed and connected you and your family will feel when you intentionally step away from screens. All you need to do is step out into the fresh air.

Need some inspiration? Here are 5 simple outdoor activities to refresh your mind and help you reconnect this summer.

1. Cook over a fire.

Gathering around a campfire, whether its miles away from your home or just in your backyard, has some worthwhile perks. Smoky, savory flavors from the flames will give your food unbeatable taste. (Ever try a pie iron? These campfire treats will be loved by all ages!)

But better yet, you’re taking a timeout from everyday chaos – busy schedules, buzzing phones, an ever-filling inbox – and using that time for the people in your life. Invite neighbors, friends and family. Sharing a good meal is a satisfying way to relax and reconnect with the ones you love.

2. Go for a walk (or a hike).

Whether it’s ten minutes around the block or a whole day excursion on the trails, getting some exercise and fresh air just feels good. It’s a chance to clear your head and can easily become part of your regular routine.

It can also become a special family outing or a day where you can catch up with friends as you explore new trails.

3. Grow a garden.family gardening in elevated garden bed

You don’t need acres of space to enjoy this healthy activity. I have a friend who lives in a city apartment with no yard, but still manages to grow fresh herbs and recycle her food scraps into compost right on her balcony patio.

Container gardening offers so many options from raised garden beds to windowsill planters. You may even consider joining or starting a community garden.  Not only will you get to reap the rewards of growing fresh food and being outside, you may even get to know your neighbors.

4. Spend the night under the stars.

There’s something so refreshing about camping, even if it’s right in your backyard. Pitching the tent in your backyard is great if you don’t want to go far from the comforts of home or if you want to slowly introduce youngsters to the world of camping.

For the more adventurous, plan a trip to somewhere new. Instead of falling asleep to the tv, you’ll be falling asleep under the stars.

5. Play.

This is a simple one with so many possibilities, none that involve video games, and takes little planning. After all, there is a whole playground waiting outside.lehman's flyer wagons

Teach youngsters how to skip rocks on water. Build a fort.  Play a game.  Old-time favorites, like tag and hide-and-seek, require nothing other than some willing participants. Or invest in some outdoor equipment and games for the whole family: swings, horseshoes, croquet.  Whatever you do, do together. Some of the greatest memories made are those spent with loved ones.

Helpful Hint: Don’t forget the sunscreen!