The Coronavirus pandemic is forcing us into isolation and cabin fever is already a problem for many. If you can safely engage in outdoors activities, there are so many benefits. There are so many fun things to do, even if you cannot use a public facility.
Research shows that there are both physical and mental health benefits to being outdoors (even if it’s just 20 minutes!), Here’s some top benefits of spending time outdoors:
- Taking a walk in nature improves short-term memory.
- Helps de-stressing you.
- Help eliminate fatigue.
- Helps fight depression and anxiety. A natural stress-reliever.
- Lowers blood pressure.
- Improves your ability to focus.
- And of course, absorbing the much needed Vitamin D.
Spending time with children outdoors
There are many benefits for children and youth playing outside. Outside they release energy, use their loud voices, play vigorously and engage in messy projects. Children can also experience the plants and animals in their local ecosystems. Children should work on their fine and gross motor skills – mastering both is good for their growth and independence. Having good motor skills can help them explore the world around them and gain strength and confidence. Other research shows more benefits for children to play outside, like:
- Better physical health
- Numerous opportunities to strengthen motor skills
- Greater visual-motor integration (the ability to control hand and body movement guided by vision)
- Stronger verbal and social skills
- Production of Vitamin D (essential Vitamin for bone health)
- Increased attention and cognitive abilities
The outdoor space is suitable for a wide variety of activities, active and quiet. Playing in the park and going camping are great ways to spend time outdoors. Here is some ideas to teach the young ones while outside:
- Quiet area: Painting and reading outside.
- Physical area: Activities and materials to strengthen motor skills. Playgrounds / Playing with balls / jump ropes / riding bicycle and group games (Playing tag)
- Nature area: Activities and material found in nature (Finding different leaves/bark)
- Social area: Where the picnic table and benches are located
- Drama area: Where they can role play, for example play in a doll house
Make time for outside learning experiences by planning fun and creative experiences. Do not be afraid to bring the indoors out too. Fresh air is always a good thing for children.
The outdoors boosts your immune system whether young and old, enhances creativity and provides free aromatherapy, as research shows it’s really important to sometimes stop and smell the roses.
The influence of Covid-19 (Coronavirus)
Amidst the worldwide pandemic it’s difficult to spend time with family and friends outdoors, as big gatherings have been banned. South Africa has imposed severe restrictions, as the number of cases reported has rise and rise.
Restrictions include closing 35 out of 53 of South Africa’s land border crossings and 2 of its 8 seaports. Banning air travel entries from most countries and shutting all schools till after the Easter weekend in mid-April. Authorities recommend staying at home during the Covid-19 restrictions, but outdoor time does not have to be restricted if you have a private yard/back yard. For those with or without a back yard, here is some fun activities to do:
- Build a fort.
- Read and role play.
- Board + card games.
- Puzzle challenge.
- Make cookies (Let them cut their own cookies and make their own designs/ let them ice them with different colours.}
- (Learn them to filter water, plant seeds, identify different shapes and sizes leaves etc)
- DIY – make drawings/paintings for family or friends.
How to keep safe while at home:
- Wash your hands regularly
- Avoid touching your eyes and mouth – especially if your hands are unwashed
- Cover your face when you sneeze or cough
- Avoid gatherings with extended family and friends
- If you go out – avoid touching objects used by many (Example: Railing) and use hand sanitizer
Spending time outdoors has a lot of health benefits for you and your children. However, during the outbreak – keep safe for future outdoor adventures and outings. Be positive and make the best of this self-isolation situation. Be safe, be healthy.