Go Play Outside
Go. Play. Outside. As all of our mothers knew and tried to teach us, these are three loaded words individually, and when put together, become a powerful healing combination. As Nike ads says, 'just do it'. Don't worry about the details, just get up off your bum and GO do something with yourself, or even better, with others. Anything will do, but you can add an additional oomph to the doing if you are doing something fun that resembles PLAY. And you can add an additional oomph to that if you go play OUTSIDE, in nature, for instance.
Academic research studies on play demonstrate that it's not only necessary for normal healthy development of children but also assists adults to stay healthy, active and socially connected. Dr. Stuart Brown is the founder of the National Institute of Play and talks about the benefits of play to adults in the TedTalk below.
Play is defined in various ways. One definition by Scott Eberley is illustrated by the diagram below and includes the elements of pleasure, surprise, anticipation, understanding, strength and poise. In other words, FUN!
Research on the benefits of being outside in natural settings cites the benefits of exposure to vitamin D in balancing our hormones, reducing obesity and reducing depression. Only as little as five minutes of nature time per day can produce great health and mental benefits. Furthermore, visual exposure to skies and landscapes in the colors of blue and green has the greatest destressing effect on persons.
Dr Stuart talks about his research findings about play and motivates us to get out there and have more fun in our lives.
An article that concisely explains the benefits of nature.
Here is one organization in the UK which uses activities in natural sourroundings to promote better mental health.
This is a great web site listing 30 games, most of which I played as a kid on those long, hot summer evenings. But why not keep playing them as adults?
No discussion of outdoor games would be complete without mentioning Dale LeFevre's famous New Games books and resources for all ages.
The Elements of Play: Toward a Philosophy and a Definition of Play, Journal of Play, Vol. 6, No. 2