Scottish-American Naturalist John Muir once said, “In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.” Not surprisingly, Muir is one of the people most responsible for the National Park System we have in the US today. He gave up a career in industry to wander his way from Indiana to Florida in 1867, sketching the flora and fauna along the way. Eventually, he made his way to California and surrendered himself to the lure of the natural world. PBS writes that Muir “felt a spiritual connection to nature; he believed that mankind is just one part of an interconnected natural world, not its master, and that God is revealed through nature.”
Muir understood the power of nature in a way that many 21st century people do not. Perhaps that was because he didn’t have the distractions of today, the phones, TVs, video games, and a thousand other things. In 2005, Robert Louv published a book called Last Child in the Woods, in which he coined the term “nature deficit disorder” and argued many behavior problems children were experiencing were related to the fact they no longer went outside.
The good news is that things are changing. The Outdoor Foundation released a report in 2013 that said 49.2% of Americans participated in some sort of outdoor recreation, and the National Park System reported record-breaking attendance in 2015.
Why do we need to get outside?
With so many things packed into our daily schedules, it’s not easy to find time to take a walk or play ball in the backyard. I’m guilty of going into hibernation mode as soon as the temperatures fall below 50. Can it really matter that much if we don’t get outside?
The simple answer is YES, it matters a great deal. The benefits for spending time outdoors—even just five minutes—have been well researched. Rather than get into them today, though, I’ve decided to make it my 2016 A-Z Challenge theme to give you 26 Reasons To Take Your Family Outside. Some of the reasons are lighthearted, but many are quite serious. My hope is that at least one of the reasons will you stick in your mind, and when you feel like you just want to relax on the couch and watch a movie, you’ll get up and head outside instead.
To get you started on your own outdoor adventure (and because it fits so well with the A-Z blogging challenge), I encourage you to take up the National Wildlife Federation’s “26 Ideas From A-Z” outdoor activity challenge with your family.
I hope you’ll check back for the 26 Reasons to Take Your Family Outside, beginning April 1, 2016!