Living Columns & Blogs

Time outdoors is good for you and your family

School is almost out of session, and summer plans are taking shape. We want to make sure that you and your family are prioritizing time together. We invite you to join the Centred Outdoors program to stress less and discover more of the beauty that Centre County has to offer.

Research has demonstrated that children who spend quality time engaging in family activities form significant family bonds, build greater resiliency and are happier, more grounded teenagers who form independent relationships with both parents. Further, there is strong evidence that spending “we time” in nature is even more effective in building strong family bonds. The Japanese practice of Shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing, defined as “making contact with and absorbing the atmosphere of the forest,” creates opportunities for slowing down and being emotionally available for sharing and conversation. So as you consider your summer plans and family activities, consider prioritizing time spent in nature. Give your family the gift of removing distractions of household chores, TV and mobile devices to connect with open spaces and the great outdoors.

Getting active in nature isn’t just good for family connections — it’s also good for your health. According to the Children and Nature Network report “Together in Nature — Pathways to a Stronger, Closer Family,” time outdoors in more natural settings can reduce children’s stress, increase their curiosity and creativity and improve their physical coordination. Not surprisingly the report also notes that “kids who spend more time outside tend to be more active and are less likely to be overweight.” Interestingly, the research also shows that young people who engage in regular outdoor activities are less likely to need glasses for near-sightedness than those who do not.

There’s a clear connection that being in nature releases people from the responsibilities and stress of school, home and work while simultaneously improving physical and mental health and the family unit.

Centred Outdoors, funded by Centre Foundation and organized by ClearWater Conservancy and partners, wants to make it fun and easy for you and your family to get outside this summer. We invite you to explore up to nine Centre County destinations, on your own or through guided adventures, every Sunday and Wednesday between June 18 and Aug. 16. To learn more and register for this cost-free program, please visit www.centredoutdoors.org.

Together, we’ll stress less and discover more about the great outdoors. Join us!

Deb Nardone is the executive director of ClearWater Conservancy.

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