Outdoor Fun for Everyone

Learn about the possible positive changes in your life if you and your family committed to 1,000 hours of outdoor time every year.

| January / February 2020

Adobe Stock/JenkoAtaman

Anyone who spends time in natural environments also enjoys a lower rate of depression, better memory, and improved blood pressure. Studies conclude that time outside improves brain function and creativity, and that taking breaks throughout the school or work day is critical to success. In fact, children’s emotional well-being relies on time spent outdoors. Unfortunately, recess time has been reduced nationwide, even as rates of ADHD, depression, and obesity climb. Children are spending, on average, half the time outside that their parents’ generation did.

To help return kids to more natural, healthy routines, a growing number of parents, educators, and therapists are revisiting the value of children spending time outside on a daily basis. Nowhere is that effort more apparent than in the 1000 Hours Outside movement, which seeks to get kids outside for an average of 20 hours each week — or close to three hours daily.

Is that even possible when we schedule extracurricular activities, tutors, and parents work multiple jobs and suffer long commutes? Some families think so, and say it might be time for you to think so, too. Consider this: In 2018, The American Heart Association estimated that children were spending more than seven hours a day looking at screens, an equivalent to about 2,500 hours a year. If that many hours are available for screen time, surely we can figure out a way to allocate the same amount of time for outdoor play.

Hardly a New Concept

Ginny Yurich, a not-so-average married mother of five, founded 1000 Hours Outside as a way to share with teachers, caregivers, and parents the concept of devoting time to truly be outdoors with children. Yurich’s website offers outdoor family guides and a blog chronicling research and resources for people trying to pull off more time in nature. Yurich has now become an influencer, with followers around the globe advocating for how the power of nature can instill a greater sense of responsibility, respect for the outdoors, longer attention spans, and memories in children that can’t be had from a video game.

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