Promoting engagement with wildlife and the natural world, is a cause very close to my heart. I love to share the fascinating facts, strange quirks and outstanding beauty of the natural world that inspire me. While simple pleasure is one motivation for experiencing nature, there is a more compelling reason to venture out: nature is good for us.
Nature benefits everyone, directly and indirectly. We know from experience that simply getting some fresh air, exercising in a local greenspace, or watching a beautiful sunset can boost our current state of mind, but the more you can manage, the better. The advantages of experiencing nature are not reserved for those who live near wildlife reserves or who have a holiday home on the coast. Nature is available to everyone everywhere, and with a little planning and maybe some creative thinking, we can all increase our nature quotient.
Why should we put effort into spending time in nature? There are so many benefits to mental, and physical health both immediate and longer term. Everyone can and does benefit from nature, whether they seek it out or not, but being aware of how much good we can do ourselves might make those trips out a priority. Various ecosystem factors play positive roles in human wellbeing; forests and biodiversity both have protective roles for global human health. We are in no way separate from the natural world, however urbanised our day-to-day experiences are. To protect, celebrate and seek out nature, is to connect with our natural past and to invest in a future of improved health.
As adults it is our collective responsibility to ensure that kids get to experience natural phenomena, to see beautiful views, and move their bodies in natural environments. We are also responsible for using and caring for our local natural spaces, to allow continued accessibility and shared benefits.
I am particularly passionate about sharing nature with kids, partly because I am a parent of young children, partly because I was lucky enough to grow up enjoying abundant natural spaces and wildlife, but also because the benefit to kids can be dramatic.
For children, the benefits of spending time in natural environments are continuing to be studied. The results so far make fascinating reading and provide more than enough reason to make the time to share nature with the young people in your life.
Benefits to kids include, but are not limited to
- Increased resilience and ability to handle difficult situations
- Increased concentration for academic activities
- Improved sleep
- Improved connection with local community, through use of shared greenspaces
- Playing in natural environments improves coordination and agility
- Increased Energy
- Improved eyesight
- Stimulation of creative thinking
- Reduced anxiety and stress
- Positive effect on mental health, immediate and ongoing
- Positive effect on fitness
- Fosters connection with nature and environmental issues
- Regular play in natural environments helps to form life-long healthy habits
These do indeed sound like gifts we would wish to bestow on our children, but how to fit ‘nature’ in to modern family life? To answer, I intend to continue this series of posts, taking a look at the benefits of nature in more detail and providing links to relevant studies, further reading, and achievable outdoor activities.
If getting outside with your kids currently seems daunting I will include ideas of how and where to get outside, from free and simple quick fixes to more epic excursions; quick cloud watching sessions, rockpooling, forest schools or maybe a camping trip.
I look forward to taking this series further and engaging in the conversation about our children’s health and wellbeing. Please join me and we can let the kids be wild together.