Holy shiz… can you believe it’s October?!
Um. I, for one, cannot.
Regardless, the month rolls on, and with it, I pose a challenge.
I attended the Leave No Child Inside Central Ohio Summit this past Friday. As an outdoor educator, I firmly believe and often “preach” the value of unstructured outdoor play – time completely disconnected from gadgets, screens, and distractions.
The average child in the U.S. spends 7.5 hrs. a day staring at screens, not including time at school.
This increasingly indoor, sedentary lifestyle is a serious health crisis – research over the past 10-20 years has linked it to obesity; vitamin-D deficiency; myopia; decreased motor skills; weakened bones, muscles, and joints; poorly developed social skills; depression and anxiety… the list of ill health effects of this de-natured life goes on and on.
The good news?
There’s a cure, and it’s as easy as opening the door.
Frequent, unstructured outdoor play can remedy ALL of these for our children. In fact, the Academy of Pediatrics recommends one hour of play in nature a day!
But, it’s my opinion that this isn’t just a childhood epidemic.
It effects each and every one of us grown-ups, too.
I love my laptop and iPhone just as much as the next person, but in this world of increasingly connectivity, it’s just as important to disconnect every once in a while… we deserve some playtime too!
Its all too easy to get sucked into spending an evening perusing blogs for hours, watching hour after hour of TV, and checking on every little ding! of the smartphone.
But, the moments of my day that center me, that bring life back into sharper focus are the simpler ones – the silhouette of the trees through the fog on my brisk, morning run. The black of dawn fading into deep blues and purples as steam off my cup of morning coffee swirls in the air. The vibrant reds and oranges of sunrise streaking their way across the sky on my drive to work.
Sure, an hour a day is great. But all it takes are these small moments of recognition, of connecting to the natural world in tangible and intangible ways that ground us, that allow us to
experience “real life,”
appreciate the world around us,
and to acknowledge our gratitude for all of our blessings.
And so, I challenge you to put down your gadgets and Get Out.
Whether it’s for an hour-long trail run, a peaceful walk with the dog, or a few serene minutes on the porch, watching the fog roll in, bringing with it the chaos of the day…
Leave your Garmin at home. Put your cell phone away. Watch the sunrise instead of the morning news. Set aside however much time you can spare for outdoor “play” time each day in October.
Please join in and share your moments (after the fact, of course!) with each other on Twitter, using the #GetOutober hashtag… Yes, I recognize the irony, but this is the crazy world we live in. 🙂
And with that, I dare you to #GetOutober…
And I can promise that you won’t regret it.