An inexpensive investment into your family’s health: Guest post from 1000 Hours Outside
When I was younger I didn’t think too much about health. Things like cancer, heart disease, diabetes, etc. were things that just weren’t on my radar. Throughout the course of my life, my biggest catalyst toward making any significant health changes was getting pregnant and then subsequently having children. Whereas nutrition had always just been something on the back burner, it quickly became a front and center element of my life. The labels “Organic” and “GMO-free” quickly seem to have more significance. Being a mom also puts your own mortality on your mind since those precious little dudes and dudettes really need you to stick around. I want to be around to see my little people graduate from high school, get married, and have children of their own. And while many health problems cannot be linked to lifestyle choices there are certainly a slew of things we can prevent by watching our nutrition, exercise and stress levels.
No matter the stage of life you’re in the days often move along at quite a clip. It’s easy when you are a mom to get caught up in all the amazing activities that are geared toward kids – swim lessons, library programs, art class, dance class, karate etc. Sometimes it’s hard to choose amongst all the offerings out there for children because there are almost endless options. With all the offerings but yet a limited budget, we have had to pause and seriously think about what things are most beneficial and time worthy. Surprisingly, we found that there are significant and multifaceted benefits gained at a very low monetary cost with one simple solution: increasing outdoor time.
After trying many of the aforementioned kids’ activities we went one day to an open field with some friends and spent a large chunk of time outside. We didn’t bring toys or games and yet the kids seemed the most engaged I had ever seen them. They jumped off of stumps and chased squirrels. They hid behind trees and built forts out of sticks. Intrigued by this free, seemingly very beneficial activity I began to do some research and found a myriad of benefits of free play and open air.
Honestly – there are so many benefits it would be impossible to touch on them all in a single blog post. Socially, emotionally, physically, mentally, and verbally – we have seen growth in leaps and bounds since we’ve been spending more and more time outside. Our kids are more ruddy and athletic. They are lean, strong and coordinated. Something our group of moms have talked extensively about is the health benefits from exposure to the sun. We are by no means scientists and although the research on health can be varied and confusing, one thing we have seen consistently is the link between vitamin D and cancer prevention. One recent stat we read was that those with levels of greater than 80 nmol of D3 in their blood were considerably less likely to die from cancer. Specifically, they were 64 percent less likely to die from cancer than those with low vitamin D3 levels! With the increase of toxins everywhere we are very interested in anything that could be a preventative cancer measure for our children. While we are careful to avoid burns, we are making steps to ensure our kids little bodies see the sun on a regular basis. According to The Hundred Year Lie, cancer deaths have increased from 3 percent of all deaths to 20 percent of all deaths in just 100 years. We know that our time outdoors is not a get-out-jail-free card when it comes to health but we do feel good knowing our kids are gleaning health benefit after health benefit from this free activity – and we are all enjoying ourselves doing it!
We just adore our home state of Michigan when it comes to getting outside. There are so many options of things to do we can’t even fit it all in. There are beaches for building sand castles, miles of hiking with the most amazing trees, and farms where we can walk around with pigs and chickens. There are state parks, state recreation areas, metroparks, open fields, nature preserves, river walks, waterfalls, and miles upon miles of beautiful sandy beaches. So, grab a friend and head outside. Your body and your children’s bodies will thank you!
Jen, Lisa and Ginny are moms (both part-time working and stay at home) who have a passion for getting kids outdoors and for the carefree childhood and health benefits that outside time provides. They have nine kids amongst them who all love running, building, picnicking, playing and napping in the open air. Their blog, 1000 Hours Outside is meant to encourage moms every where to take their kids outside more and discover all of the amazing benefits. 1000 Hours Outside hosts monthly gift card and product giveaways to give families that extra incentive to make this investment into their health.