Improved creativity, focusing on the present moment through mindfulness, increased confidence, enhanced mental health—these are just a few of the incredible benefits getting outdoors can offer to both kids and adults. But what if simply going out in nature at a young age actually had an impact on how our brains develop? You may want to think twice about cancelling your plans to go on that hike with your child because it turns out that outdoor experiences do have a profound effect on brain development in several ways.
Chances are, you or someone you know has struggled with a form of anxiety, depression or other mental health problems at some point in life. According to the ADAA (Anxiety and Depression Association of America), 18.8% of adults aged 18 and older in the U.S. experience anxiety disorders every year (that’s about 40 million).1 The ADAA also notes that approximately 6.7% of adults experience depression in the U.S. each year (about 16.1 million) and as many as 322 million people live with depression worldwide.2
How a Mix-up at Camp Prompted this Lesson: We Need to Take Play More Seriously
No houses or civilians were harmed in The Great 2018 Raid of Wonderland Park
Three Ways Outdoor Adventure May Benefit a Child's Mental Health
At Avid4 Adventure, one of our core values is balance, meaning that we as outdoor educators live and encourage the balance of work and play in our lives. However, as screened entertainment continues to absorb the attention of children, outdoor play can disappear as a potential outlet for kids struggling to find mental and emotional harmony. The physical benefits of outdoor recreation are well-known today, such as reduction to risk of chronic illnesses and obesity. What are often not discussed are the benefits to a child’s mental and emotional health. Many researchers have studied the effects of exercise in natural, outdoor environments on mental health, and have found the following trends on outdoor adventure: