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4-H News; Being outdoors benefits young people

By KIM RAGLAND

Boyle 4-H Extension Agent

No matter your age, getting outdoors can be healing and renewing in many ways. With the weather warming and June being the Great Outdoors Month, now is a good time to reflect on all the benefits of spending more time outdoors.

These benefits begin before we are even born. Several studies show when pregnant women spend time in nature it promotes fetal growth development and healthier birth weights.

Being outdoors improves our physical health. Research shows that people who spend time outside reduce their chances of becoming near-sighted and have higher levels of vitamin D.  Youth who spend time outdoors have increased levels of physical activity and reduced rates of obesity.

The outdoors is also good for our emotional health. Outdoor learning helps youth focus and results in less instances of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, known as ADHD. When young people learn in nature, they have better relationship skills and more self-control. They also have lower levels of stress, anger, aggression and disruptive behavior.

When they learn in a natural environment, young people tend to have a greater desire to absorb knowledge and are more engaged with learning. They perform better in reading, writing, math, science and social studies. They also sharpen their critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

Here are some ideas to help your family spend more time outdoors.

  • Plant a garden or work in your yard or landscaping.
  • Explore your backyard and teach your young person about the bugs, trees and plants you find. Have them draw a picture of an insect they find or write about a plant they see.
  • Take a walk through your neighborhood or hike in a natural spot.
  • Ride bikes. play on a swing set or even play hide and seek, tag or other games outdoors.

For more information about opportunities to learn about the natural environment through Boyle County 4-H, please visit us on Facebook (Boyle County Extension and Boyle County 4H Online), visit our website (boyle.ca.uky.edu), call us 236-4484 or email marycatherine.rowland@uky.edu.