Like most Americans, our family loves technology. We use our phones and computers to manage our social media accounts, email vendors and partners, track sales, text with friends, take pictures, and on and on. And our kids tend to gravitate toward technology when not prodded in other directions.

But sometimes we need to step away from the devices and get back to the unstructured basics of life that can only be found outdoors and in the sun. Such times bring about several happy side effects of going outdoors, and here’s a list of many we’ve actually experienced.

 

Physiological Benefits

1. Increase Vitamin D levels
Over 40% of Americans may have a Vitamin D deficiency, which more than doubles the risk of heart disease, encourages bone loss (especially in women), and contributes to a host of other long term health issues. Vitamin D produced from sunlight (even on cloudy days) helps the body absorb calcium, improves immune function, and protects against inflammation and some types of cancer.

2. Lower blood pressure
Sun exposure (even on cloudy days) lowers blood pressure as nitric oxide stored in the top layers of the skin reacts with the light and widens blood vessels as it moves into the bloodstream.

3. Reduce stress levels and alleviate depression
Sun exposure increases the production of the brain’s natural mood-boosting chemical serotonin, which when lowered can lead to seasonal affective disorder (aka SAD).

 

Metaphysical Benefits

4. Extended face-to-face conversations on subjects which don’t rule day-to-day life

5. Siblings get along better and family bonds are enriched

6. Build patience

7. Gain appreciation of modern conveniences taken for granted

8. Primal joys of breathing, basking in the sunshine (remember your sunscreen), hearing the wind in the trees, water lapping on the beach, and hearing silence

9. Time to THINK

 

Life Skill Benefits

10. Reduce technology dependence

11. Learn outdoor skills like fire starting, knot tying, and knife safety

12. Study wildlife for extended amounts of time and different times of the day

13. Have adventures that aren’t planned

14. Strengthen flexibility and go-with-the-flow attitudes

15. Kids gain confidence and independence

 

In Closing

It’s so important to encourage kids to go outside. Modern life is hard on them, too: schoolwork, homework, sports practice, pressure from friends — all while trying to figure out how to become an adult in this crazy world. Just like us, being outdoors helps kids reflect and recharge.

Fresh air can do all of us good, so make it a priority to schedule some time to go outdoors every week.