Why Your Family Should Spend Time Outdoors

Shelley R. O’Brien with the Northeast Kansas Library System (NEKLS)

Photograph from Max Goncharov, Unslpash

Spending time outdoors in nature can provide many benefits to you and your family. “According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average American spends 93% of their life indoors. 87% of that time is spent inside, while the other 6% is spent in automobiles. This means that only 7% of the average American’s life is spent outdoors.” (Whalen, 2018).

Getting children outdoors can create a lifetime of healthy habits and benefits. According to the Child Mind Institute spending time in nature helps children: 1) build confidence, 2) promotes creativity and imagination, 3) teaches responsibility, 4) makes children think, and 5) reduces stress and fatigue.  All of these benefits are important in raising healthy and happy children.

It is important that adults’ model healthy behaviors for children. Consistently getting outdoors and participating in an activity such as walking, hiking, birding, swimming, cycling, and many others models healthy behaviors that can have positive health benefits. Michelle Kondo with the USDA Forrest Service’s Northern Research Station says, “There are many physical and psychological benefits of nature that scientists have observed, which can better help us understand how nature supports wellness in the body, mind and community.” She continues by saying, “All of these benefits add up and reduce adverse impacts on our bodies, and have restorative characteristics. So get outdoors and enjoy nature’s gift of wellness.”

StoryWalks are a great way to jump start your connection to the outdoors. It gives you time in a park or local outdoor area with a task to accomplish for the entire family. The story can increase family discussions, activities, and get children interested in new reading topics.

The bottom line is that getting outdoors is an important of everyone’s wellness. Make it a family habit.


Child Mind Institute https://childmind.org/article/why-kids-need-to-spend-time-in-nature/

Kondo, M. (2021, March 24) The wellness benefits of the great outdoors. USDA Forrest Service Website. https://www.fs.usda.gov/features/wellness-benefits-great-outdoors

Whalen, R. (2018, May 3). The powerful health benefits of spending time outside. Total Wellness. https://info.totalwellnesshealth.com/blog/the-powerful-health-benefits-of-spending-time-outside