Last weekend I was at my parent’s house and as I passed through rooms where televisions were on I kept hearing horror stories about cases of the flu running rampant. Ugh, right?! That is the last thing I want to think about or have shouted at me from the TV! So in an effort to counteract fear induced purchases of vaccines and vitamin C, I thought I’d present some of the research and ideas on getting outside in all weather to stay healthy! That is way more fun don’t you think?
What first came to mind when I heard the news lady ranting on was just an article I read a few years ago about European outdoor schools and how the health of the children that attend is spectacular. The schools the article was referencing were in Sweden, Norway, Germany, and England, not southern Spain or Italy, so we are talking cold temperatures. The children come to school bundled in appropriate clothing and they spend the day learning, academically and experientially, outdoors.
I had about 5 layers on under a super warm coat and was using hand and foot warmers, which let me comfortably spend the entire day outdoors during this snowstorm in NYC in December. I am a total cold chicken and was totally unacclimated coming from 85 degree Florida 3 days before and it was awesome! I was prepared and was toasty!
It really make sense when you think about it because the children (and adults too) aren’t spending the day cooped up in a hot room breathing stale air all over each other. They are out in the fresh air where flu germs don’t stand a chance against the cold temperatures and plethora of fresh air to disperse them.
Bundle up the baby and go for walks in the woods each day! (PS-he kept pulling off his gloves.)
Of course being outside is shown to improve mood, which also enhances physical health. The benefits of getting outdoors in winter go beyond just the physical, but physical and mental are inseparable, so of course both must be addressed. Spending time outdoors can also help you get more sunlight in this darker season, which will improve your circadian rhythm, which in turn helps you sleep better, which boosts immunity. Improved air quality, improved exercise, improved disposition, improved sleep, improved immunity, why not get outside? It’s a win win right?!
When was the last time you made a snow angel?
So remember the old saying “there’s no bad weather, only the wrong clothes!” and bundle up, stay dry, and get outside!
What are your tricks for keeping yourself, your children, or your classrooms healthy in the winter?
What is your favorite way to spend time outdoors on the coldest of days?
Seeds to Sprout:
What the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends for winter play. It is very specific!
Get the kids outside and play!! Check out this advice and guidelines for children and winter outdoor time.
A great article by Playworks: “Prevent the Flu by Playing Outdoors”. At the bottom of this article are some great links for teachers for how to make the most out of winter recesses.
A bit of surface info on all weather European forest kindergartens– here is your precedent!
Mother Earth News article on tips for preventing colds and flu in the winter, including shoveling snow and raking leaves- bonus! Exercise, productivity, and staying healthy!
Listen to the public radio program Here and Now with microbiologist Jack Gilbert on getting outside for winter wellness.
Oxford Journal article on the benefits of nature on physical and mental health
An article by the American Society of Landscape Architects on the “Health Benefits of Nature” with tons of links to articles on specific benefits categorized by adults and children and particular health topics.
Did you catch this post from last winter on Fir Tea as an immune booster? No? Well check it out now!
A day on the slopes is my favorite way to get winter fresh air!