Benefits of “Green Time”
By Shannon Anderson, Licensed Professional Counselor
Hopefully as you’re reading this, the springtime is almost here and another cold winter will soon be behind us. If you’re like my family, a little extra space from each other sounds like a pretty good idea.
Springtime has always symbolized a time of growth, exploration and adventure for me. I grew up in the country. More significantly, I grew up at a time when kids actually went outside to play. In so many ways, I think it was a much healthier way for a kid to grow up.
So with spring fast approaching, I thought I would cover a few of the many ways outside play — also known as “green time” — can benefit kids.
“GREEN TIME” MAY REDUCE SYMPTOMS OF ADHD.
There has been a decent amount of research in the past decade or so that suggests “green time” can reduce some symptoms of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Studies suggest hyperactivity can be reduced and attention and focus can be increased with as little as 20 minutes of outside “green time” per day.
If your child has been diagnosed with ADHD, there is certainly enough research to warrant giving it a try. When the weather’s nice, start with 20 minutes playing ball in the yard before evening homework time. Watch for improvements in focus and attention as your child does his or her homework afterward. It’s simple to try, and what could it hurt? There aren’t any real negative side effects of playing in the yard for 20 minutes a day before homework time.
MENTAL AND EMOTIONAL WELL-BEING.
Playing and exploring in your yard or at a park lets kids be adventurous in ways they can’t be indoors. Playing tag, kicking a soccer ball or exploring the woods on a nature hike is a completely different experience than playing three hours of video games, right? In nature, kids use more of their senses. They can see, hear, smell and touch things in the world around them. This will strengthen their imagination, improve creativity and even build confidence.
PHYSICAL HEALTH AND FITNESS.
The health benefits of kids being more physically active are pretty obvious. Childhood obesity rates are astonishingly high right now. Just 20 minutes a day spent running, climbing and playing outside can burn those extra calories and help curb this national epidemic. Physical activity can also improve sleep quality for kids.
Give this a try when the weather is nice and let me know how it goes. If you notice any changes in your child’s behavior, mood or focus, send me an email to share your story at firstname.lastname@example.org.