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5 Reasons to get your kids outside (responsibly!) during social distancing

We are living in scary and unpredictable times and whilst part of you wants to keep them away from the world (and its viruses!), here's some reasons why getting them outside can support both their health and emotional wellbeing.

1. Head for the forest

Being around trees and nature has been shown to reduce blood pressure, blood glucose levels, increase production of natural killer cells and decrease depressive symptoms in various studies (Oh et al., 2017; Furuyashiki et al., 2019). In fact, trees have been shown to release Volatile Organic Compounds or VOC’s, think of the smell of fresh pine or elderflower, which have also been associated with better immune and autonomic functioning along with improvement in mental health markers (Furuyashiki et al., 2019).

So get to the forest and get bark rubbing, tree climbing, den building!

2. Daylight

With their usual routines disrupted and possibly no fixed time for schooling, kids can feel a little all over the place, particularly when it comes to bedtime and getting to sleep.

Our bodies have several regular cycles throughout each 24 hour period and this is often referred to as our circadian rhythm. Our sleep cycle is one such regularity and requires the hormone, melatonin.

Melatonin production requires daylight to kickstart its production throughout the day. With children not needing to travel to school, it may be useful to get them outside for at least 20 minutes in the morning or when they have their first scheduled break during their home schooling day.

3. Good gut health - Let them get grubby (to an extent!). Obviously rolling around in dog muck may not be great for their health, but climbing trees, jumping in muddy puddles, picking up snails and worms will help their immune system to develop.

We are hearing more and more how important it is to have a diverse microbiome – or lots different varieties of beneficial bacteria in our gut. Having a more diverse microbiome is associated with lower levels of inflammation and a healthier immune response (Jeffery and O’Toole, 2013), people who exercise outside regularly have been shown to have more diverse microbiomes.

4. Exercise - We all know exercise is a good thing and its great when it comes to immunity, with those who exercise regularly having more benefical bacteria in their guts than those who don't. It's also great to let them burn off some energy. Older kids could go on a bike ride with a friend, just stay the recommended distance of 2m away from each other and wash your hands and other equipment thoroughly on returning home.

5. Staying Sane - We've all seen the social media posts of distraught parents dealing with kids who are at home all day. They want to snack all the time, leave a trail of destruction wherever they go, compete for your attention with whatever it is you are trying to do! So give yourselves a breath of fresh air - literally. Get outside take 3 deep breaths and be grateful for the beautiful outdoors!

If you or your little one has underlying health conditions and you would like to see how nutritional therapy can support you during this difficult time, please book in for a free 10/ minute exploratory call

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