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Why is Nature Good for Us?


"Just being surrounded by bountiful nature, rejuvenates and inspires us." - E.O. Wilson

Everyone talks about it.


We even know the wonderful feeling of stepping outside after being cooped up inside.


But when we think about it, what IS it about nature that is so good for us?


Whether we visit a park, a farm, a river, a forest, a walking trail, or just the regular sidewalk, our bodies and minds respond differently to the outdoors.


The exact science of how being outside affects our cognitive functioning is not yet know. But they DO know that:


1. It reduces stress and fatigue.

“In natural environments, we practice an effortless type of attention known as soft fascination that creates feelings of pleasure, not fatigue.” (Attention Restoration Theory via Positive Psychology)1


2. It gets children moving!

Walking, running, biking, hiking, swimming, climbing, jumping, crawling … the possibilities for movement outdoors are unbeatable. Children can move differently outside than may be allowed or encouraged inside, contributing to the development of their spatial awareness and physical literacy.


3. It promotes creativity and imagination.

Being in nature is the ultimate in unstructured play which allows children to meaningfully interact with their surroundings, design their own activities, and explore the world in their own ways.


4. It provides opportunities for risky play.

As young children learn about their world, they try new and difficult things. Being outside gives children chances to go higher, faster, louder, further. And messier ;) They gain “confidence, resilience to overcome challenges, and skills to manage risks for themselves”3.


5. It connects us to the real world.

Experiencing the real world is how we learn about it. Seeing a real bird instead of an illustration enables children to “develop comprehensive knowledge and the chance to watch, observe, predict, and learn in the moment”2. Nurturing nature, forests, and green spaces provide children with the tools to learn environmental awareness, appreciation, and stewardship.




Sources

1https://childmind.org/article/why-kids-need-to-spend-time-in-nature/

2https://www.naeyc.org/resources/pubs/yc/may2019/outdoor-play-is-essential

3https://www.outdoorplaycanada.ca/2022/01/17/why-children-need-to-play-outside-now-more-than-ever/