The Importance of Outdoor Time: Why I Blog

As I enter 2014, I feel the need to answer the question, “Why do I blog?”  When I created “A Nature Mom”, my vision was clear.  My goal was to inspire other families to get outside and play.  I already had created a real-life social Meetup group, Nature Time!  The Bay Area Outdoor Playgroup, a parenting club I envisioned would bring families together, playing outside and exploring nature.  What I found was that this group attracted a large number of families, but only a small number actually came outside to play.  The vast majority of the families I met already valued nature and the outdoors and were looking to connect with others with similar values.  This turned out to be a great way for me and my family to connect with others who love the outdoors, but what about all the others?  I received much feedback from members who didn’t participate in our events that, even though they weren’t attending, they were gaining great value from my posting things to do with kids in our area.  It got me thinking… maybe a blog would be a way to better spread the word about outdoor play, how to get out into nature, and inspire others to get outside more often.  So I created this blog.

If interested, check out my very first blog post… Outside Play, Every Day.  It explains briefly how I benefit from daily outdoor time, and why I think it’s necessary for my son.  I strongly believe that everyone can benefit greatly from more time spent outdoors.

I frequently hear people complain that there isn’t enough time in the day to exercise or go outdoors.  Really??  I’ve read that the average American over the age of two spends more than thirty-four hours per week watching television.  This means the majority of Americans are making a choice to spend time in front of a computer or TV screen instead of taking a moment to head outside for some healthy playtime, which, by the way, applies to adults just as much as children.  Yes, adults need playtime, too.  Turn off the TV.  Shut down the computer.  Going outside isn’t so difficult.  Really, it isn’t!  It’s free.  And it’s everywhere.  Just put on some weather-appropriate comfortable clothing and head outside.  Walk, socialize with friends, garden, head to the park, take pictures…. do whatever works for you. But do it!

What are the health benefits of time in nature?  Oh, so many!  But here are just a few, pulled from an article from Oprah.com… Nature’s Touch:  5 Ways to Boost Your Health by Going Outside

  • Norwegian researchers discovered that subjects with moderate-severe depression who participated in a horticultural program experienced reduced symptoms after 12 weeks.

  • A 2011 study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that people who walked on an outdoor track moved at a faster pace, perceived less exertion, and experienced more positive emotions than those who walked on an indoor treadmill.

  • Just looking at a natural scene activates parts of the brain associated with balance and happiness.

  • In one study, women who spent two to four hours in the woods on two consecutive days experienced a nearly 50 percent increase in the activity of cancer-fighting white blood cells.

I’ll touch more on the health benefits of time spent outdoors in the coming months.

How has “A Nature Mom” changed over time?  Primarily, I discovered a love of photography.  I drifted away from writing as my desire to get outside to photograph what I was seeing overwhelmed my previous wish to describe what we were doing.  Also, writing takes time, and, as I have been moving towards self-employment, free time to write has become less available.  I’d rather be out there actually experiencing nature than spending my precious free moments sitting at my computer writing about it.  I have found the best way to share my outings is to show our experiences through my photography.  Lastly, my life is evolving.  I’m no longer with my son all day.  He’s growing up.  He’s in school for half the day, limiting what we can do outdoors during the week (though we still make a point of it!), while I have more time to get outside by myself and with friends.  We’re still out there every day, but we’re adjusting.

So… “Why do I blog?”  I believe my reason today is essentially the same as it was in February, 2012… to inspire others to get out into nature and the outdoors.  Who I am hasn’t changed.  I’m still a mom who needs my daily outdoor time.  I’m passionate about nature and the environment.  I continue to hike and run regularly.  Outside time keeps me sane, and I receive all the physical and mental health benefits nature has to offer.  I remain dedicated to getting my son outside for playtime every day, which I believe is even more important as he enters the school years.  I may not be sharing every moment, but trust me that we’re out there.  I’ll continue to write and take photographs, providing tips and things to do, sharing the beauty around me, hoping to inspire others to get outside, too.

Join me in the journey…  and hopefully, you, too, will be enjoying all that the outdoors has to offer…

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16 thoughts on “The Importance of Outdoor Time: Why I Blog

  1. I totally agree with you on the importance of spending time outside and in natural settings. I am fortunate in that my work on the oceans allows me lots of time to just look at the water and think without distractions. I don’t get so much of that any more, but I have come to understand how important that time was.

  2. Yours is one of the first blogs I discovered and I know if I lived in the area again, I would be so inspired to do a lot outdoors! please keep up the great blog!

    • Thanks again, Nicole! It’s even more important to get outside in a cold climate… gotta beat that cabin fever! I lived in northern Europe for a couple years, and I went kooky if I didn’t get out for a walk every day, even on the coldest, wettest of days. Thank goodness for super-warm jackets and water-proof gear! :)

  3. I thank you, truly, for your efforts in this, both in forming the networking group you spoke of and for writing/photographing your experiences to share on this blog. It is very encouraging to see that there are indeed people who share value of nature and are enthusiastic as well as public about it.

    • Thank you for your support, Alaina. It’s clear in your work that nature influenced you strongly from a young age. I fear that many children today will never have that option to connect with nature on such a deep spiritual level. Please keep up your beautiful work.

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