Outdoor Families are Happier

By Doug Williams
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We all know that time with the family, particularly outdoors is well spent, that it’s good for us and good for our spouses and kids.

Here in the Outdoor Revival office we encourage time with family, especially outdoors, it’s good for all of us and researchers at the University of Illinois have recently published a study in The Journal of Family Theory & Review looking into how time spent outdoors makes family bonds stronger and makes a family happier.  So we know we’re getting something right!

University of Illinois have recently published a study in The Journal of Family Theory & Review looking into how time spent outdoors makes family bonds stronger and makes a family happier.

 

There is plenty of research already about how the environment impacts individuals, but little on how it affects groups such as the family dynamic.  Dina Izenstark and co-author Adam Ebata are particularly interested in how taking the time to be outside with your family actually affects the group.

Most families who are often outdoors are those with small children, as often a family member will accompany the child or children outdoors.

In today’s modern age, more than at any other period in history, we are becoming overloaded with technology, which tends to exhaust our brains from the length and level of concentration required.   The new activities, such as watching TV, looking at handheld devices, and using the computer may be fun, but they require direct attention, which is fatiguing for the brain.

Many of us feel tired pretty much most of the time; we feel we don’t have enough time in our days.  By not giving our brains a chance to unwind and recharge, this is the price we pay.  Yes, technology is fun, and for some of us it feels vital, but we are risking not only our physical health but our mental health as well.

Our brains, as well as our bodies, require opportunities to relax, and this kind of relaxation can be found outside.  For any parent who has been inside all morning and then takes their child to a playground, there is a sense of calm that cannot be easily achieved otherwise.

 

Not only does our brain get some much-needed relief but we also bring our family closer. It helps to establish rituals and routines by taking the time to do the same outdoor activity again and again, such as walking the dog nightly or going on a picnic every weekend.  It creates a sense of belonging and identity within your family, and this is especially important for children.  It becomes a customary event – an activity that can be enjoyed by all generations, and something to reminisce on when you are old and gray and seeking to entertain your grandchildren.

So take a step outside and leave your devices behind for an hour or two, to see what the outdoors offers you.  Children especially can show us the way to enjoy the outdoors, and building a sandcastle on a beach as an adult gives as much pleasure as it did when you were a child.  If you want the time you spend with your family to have greater meaning, then spend it outdoors.

 

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Outdoor Revival – Reconnecting us all to the Outdoors