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Fresh air, warmer days, and some real benefits to stepping away from our computers. It’s time to heed the call of the great outdoors. 

The days are longer, the weather is warmer, and summertime is beckoning us to get outside. 

However, in today’s world, the average American is spending their time indoors. In fact, recent studies show that children eight years and younger spend over two hours per day staring at a screen. Adults typically spend even more time than that in front of their computers, indoors, and working under fluorescent lights most of their days. As we get older, we become even less inclined to venture out. 

So if being outside is not as big of a priority today, then why should we care? 

There are still a number of great benefits to unplugging and getting outside. We are so clued into technology and less observant to the world around us that it is affecting our physical and mental health. Without being intentional to get outside, we perhaps become more detached, less active, and experience more negative moods. 

In 2008, Richard Louv coined the term “nature-deficit disorder” in his book Last Child in the Woods. Louv says in his book, “Time in nature is not leisure time; it’s an essential investment in our children’s health (and also, by the way, in our own).” 

“Time in nature is not leisure time; it’s an essential investment in our children’s health (and also, by the way, in our own).” 

Since the release of this book, this medical jargon that plays on attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has become a buzzword of sorts. However, it has and does continue to raise important insights regarding our disconnection from the outdoors and how getting outside is important to our overall well-being. 

A study published in 2008 found that children who took a walk through a park scored higher on a concentration test than children who walked through a residential neighborhood prior to taking the test. Other studies have also shown that exercising outdoors could have positive effects on ADHD. Although all this research was done predominantly on children, adults struggling to focus might also benefit from outdoor activity. 

In addition to helping with concentration, getting outside can also help with lessening anxiety, improving memory, increasing physical activity, improving mood, practicing mindfulness, and experiencing less pain. While research is just now truly understanding the impacts of outdoor deficit, it is clear that it won’t hurt us any by just putting down our devices and getting outside more often.

So, heed the call of summer (or, honestly, any season, although those are limited here in Florida), because our daily dose of the outdoors is essential. 

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