Spending time outdoors is important for both mental and physical health. People are more active when they are outside and children learn better. There is Vitamin D and it’s a sensory-rich environment. Active communities do better. This may seem like an obvious statement but hear us out. They do better in ways that are above and beyond obesity rates and high blood pressure scores, although those are better as well. Research shows that active communities have lower unemployment scores (2015-2019), higher property values and higher graduation rates. Recreation spaces are one way to help communities get and stay active. The importance of these spaces became abundantly clearer when most other places were closed and the outdoors became our gym, refuge and playspace.
The benefits of creating more spaces outdoors are vast and range from child development and intergenerational engagement to better community health and bike and walking scores. We know children develop through play and that when they play, their development is child-directed and based in fun. Through play children learn social, emotional, cognitive and communication skills while developing physically and learning to solve problems creatively. These are all important skills that they will learn now and build on for the future. Adults and children can develop together through play too. Intergenerational engagement strengthens communities and brings generations together for healthy and meaningful activities. Outdoor fitness is a great way to engage people of all ages in a healthy and fun activity. Obstacles courses create a fun way for kids, families and communities to exercise and play at the same time and the best ones are designed with different levels of fitness in mind to get everyone a workout they are comfortable with and still challenge them to do more. Obstacle courses speak to our desire to compete against ourselves and others and have worked their way into popular culture with television programs and events that tap into that popularity. Everyone from fitness beginners to fitness mature can exercise at their level on the same equipment using simple modifications and/or different approaches. For example, plyometric jumps are a more difficult exercise that toe touches or step-ups, yet all three can be accomplished using a simple plyometric block that is part of an obstacle course. Adding push-ups or burpees before or after an event is another way to increase the difficulty and add cardiovascular and strength challenges. Part of what is so endearing about these courses is that people can be creative and tailor a workout that challenges them!
Outdoor learning is another way to keep kids engaged and spending time outside. Combining learning and the outdoors creates an environment that is flexible, open and where there is room for students to learn together, apart. Outdoors, children are healthier, happier and do better academically while getting much-needed nature exposure. There are so many great ways outdoor learning support both students and educators and offer a well-rounded learning experience, including Outdoor Musical Instruments and Physical Education classes. From inspiring activity to decreased stress and anxiety, a well-designed outdoor classroom helps students be more attentive and focused – a solid win for all involved.
Learn more about outdoor spaces by Burke here or contact your local Burke Representative.