An Australian family recently completed what they called their “Vitamin N” challenge: they decided to spend three hours a day outside every day for year. And the results, they say, were truly life changing.
As the mom of an active toddler, I was intrigued. I’ve certainly seen the benefits of extended play time at the park or in the backyard, but three hours a day every day?
Obviously spending three hours a day outside is not doable in Canada for most of the year. But perhaps extending our daily outdoor time – even in all types of weather – we can achieve some of the same benefits.
Hannah Alexander, the Australian mother, says there are many – and science backs her up. From improving physical development and cognitive function, she noticed the changes in her children right away.
So how did she do it? It wasn’t as daunting as it sounds. She simply found ways to weave more outdoor time into their daily routines, like walking to farmer’s market instead of driving to the grocery store, or spending an extra hour or two at the park.
For the most part, Hannah said she didn’t plan activities for her kids to do. Instead, she let them play and explore on their own. They ended up becoming little “explorers, collaborators, scientists” and their imaginations flourished. To her and her husband’s surprise, their kids stopped asking for the iPad or to watch TV. Now they’ve become strong advocates for the importance of outdoor play.
So, could you take the one-year outdoor challenge? How can you build more outdoor time into your daily routine?