So – it turns out that all these cheek-chapping walks through the winter weather and manic chasing after the dog in wide green spaces is good for me after all!
It’s known as ‘Green Exercise’ and has benefits far beyond the physical ones it seems – but then I already guessed that judging by the plummet in my mental well being every time I’m shut indoors for a while.
A BBC report (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/8654350.stm) says that even five minutes in a green space gives a boost to health and well being and self esteem too. And it is particularly important for the young.
I always knew that a good belt round outdoors did children a world of good and even substituting it for indoor exercise does not have the same effect. I remember days when home educating our two that whenever I pursued and won the battle to prise them away from inhouse comforts their moods lifted immediately. The sibling irritations, petty moods and downright bitching (possibly me too!) were all magically eased once we togged up and stepped beyond the comfort zone and went outdoors. The swimming pool or gym or indoor activity centre wore them out, but the children never came away with that sense of calm that outdoor exercise achieves.
I do so hope that parents, childminders, nurseries and most particularly schools take heed of the report. And finally understand that outdoor sport and exercise is not something they can just drop from the curriculum as unimportant in their race for ever higher academics. The outdoors; being in natural green spaces, is an essential part of our human need and development boosting self esteem, confidence, intelligence and physical, mental and spiritual well being without which children will never reach their true potential. And maybe the lack of it is why so many children in schools fail to do so.