outdoors with children

Benefits of enjoying the Michigan outdoors with your children

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Is there any place more special than Michigan in the autumn? With festivals, holidays and sports all underway, there’s always a good reason to enjoy the outdoors and breathe in the crisp air – before another snowy winter is here! The options are endless for your family no matter where you may live. Got a future pro athlete in the household? Get sporty with hiking trails, fishing, and family 5K races. Zoos, cider mills, and parks all have festive seasonal events that are appropriate for all ages (date nights, too).

Your kids especially benefit from regular time out in nature, and getting their hands dirty on occasion. So when you’re planning a fall-time adventure, consider the following benefits:

  1. The air really is fresher outdoors: Cold and flu season is back again. Many illnesses are caused by microbes in less-than-clean air, and the air in your home could be 2x, 5x, or up to 100x more polluted than that outside. While you should take steps to ensure proper indoor ventilation and limit pollutants like smoke and pet dander, kids can reduce minor seasonal symptoms like burning eyes and headaches with some outdoor play.
  2. It improves classroom performance: Especially if your fall activity is out in nature, your kids develop observational and scientific skills when interacting with their environment. If they can connect their fun activities with the family to what they’re learning in school, then they will be more interested in their academics. Outdoor time is also shown to improve attention and memory, which will help for those big exam days!
  3. It’s a boon for kids’ eye health: Adolescence and the teen years are crucial times for how children’s eyes grow. Multiple research studies have found that kids who spend a greater deal of time indoors—may that be from reduced recess hours, studying on the computer, playing video games, or anything else—had a significantly greater chance of developing myopia, or nearsightedness. The natural light outside, plus the opportunity to focus on things out in the distance, reduce the chance of needing corrective lenses later on.
  4. Get to know each other: Doesn’t it seem like kids today are busier than they have ever been before? Taking some time away from it all relieves some of the pressures and responsibilities of daily life. This in turn allows your loved ones to be free to be who they are. Use the occasion to catch up on what they’ve been up to, get their thoughts on different happenings, and laugh together. Nature is perhaps the most underrated bonding experience out there.

Now, need some ideas on what to do in your area? Here’s one good place to start