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Posts Tagged ‘outdoor play’

a snow-covered landscape with trees

Winter is my least favorite season. The cold weather and shorter days make me want to hibernate, and I know I am not alone in feeling this way! Sluggishness and sleepiness, decreased energy, feeling less social, and changes in appetite are all symptoms of the “winter blues”. These symptoms can usually be managed through activities such as exercise, time outdoors, socialization and self-care. If you find that the winter blues are interfering with your ability to carry out daily activities, however, you may have a more serious form of the blues called Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. SAD is a form of depression that follows a seasonal pattern. It usually begins in the fall, continues through the winter, and resolves in the spring. If you suspect that you have SAD, please be proactive and seek professional help.

For those of us who experience SAD or the winter blues, this season will be especially challenging as most of us have experienced or are currently experiencing the pandemic blues as well. In addition, some of the coping strategies we might normally use to beat the blues need to be modified due to the pandemic. For example, one of the strategies that experts recommend for beating the winter blues is interacting with friends and family regularly. If socializing with others is your primary coping strategy, it is important to understand potential risks of going out and what you can do to reduce the spread of COVID-19. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the risk of COVID-19 spread is directly related to how closely we interact with others and the length of those interactions. If you choose to socialize with others in person, you can reduce your risk by wearing a mask, maintaining a distance of at least six feet, and choosing to meet outdoors rather than indoors.

Gathering outdoors in the winter may seem like an unrealistic or unpleasant option, but that is not always the case! This year is the perfect opportunity to shift your mindset and try something new. In a New York Times parenting column on outdoor winter playdates, author Elisabeth Kwak-Heffran quotes British guidebook writer Alfred Wainwright: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.” This column provides numerous tips from winter athletes and professionals for bundling up and enjoying the outdoors in cold weather. While this column makes the case for getting outside in the winter to break cabin fever, an added benefit is that outdoor time is another recommend strategy for beating the winter blues.

Do you want additional strategies for beating the winter blues? Sign up for our free, four session webinar series that will be held on Friday mornings in January at go.osu.edu/beatingthewinterblues.

Written by Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Franklin County

Reviewed by Lorrissa Dunfee, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Belmont County

Sources:

Carter, S. (2014). Beating the Winter Blues. Live Healthy, Live Well blog. https://livehealthyosu.com/2014/02/19/beating-the-winter-blues/

Carter, S. (2020). Beating the Pandemic Blues. Live Healthy, Live Well blog. https://livehealthyosu.com/2020/08/31/beating-the-pandemic-blues/

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2020). Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): Deciding to go out. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/deciding-to-go-out.html

Harmon, M. (2019). Fall: A SAD Time of Year. Live Healthy, Live Well blog. https://livehealthyosu.com/2019/10/21/fall-a-sad-time-of-year/

Kwak-Heffran, E. (2020). Yes, your kids can play outside all winter. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/04/parenting/kids-winter-play-outside.html

Mayo Clinic (2017). Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20364651

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“Want to come out and play?” This simple question was the catalyst for many grand adventures as a child. Whether we explored in a park or played a game of tag in the back yard, we had fun!

a tire swing

As an adult, do you ever wish someone would ask, “Do you want to come out and play?” If so, maybe it is time to take a break from your normal routine and “Go Play”.

What is play? By definition, play means “engaging in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose.”

“My take is that any activity can be play or not play. The secret sauce is playfulness.” — Ben Mardell, researcher and educator

Do you need motivation to make time for play? Consider these important aspects of play:

  • Play is freedom. True play is not a duty but the desire to engage in the activity.
  • Play is the means, not the end. Play is about the process, not the result. Play means engaging in an activity for the joy of the activity.
  • Play is present-focused, not future goal-oriented. To actively engage in play, you must be in the current moment with a creative, active, and focused mindset.
  • Engaging in play keeps our minds sharp and memories as strong as we age.
  • Children do as we do, not necessarily as we say. This is an added reason to make time for play. Be an example to the children in your life.

If you need some fun ideas, you can: 

a dog playing fetch in the snow
  • Play fetch with a dog
  • Color a picture
  • Play charades
  • Blow bubbles
  • Play board or card games
  • Dance like no one is watching!
  • Explore a new street. This may sound like a strange suggestion, but consider the experience below:

I signed off work and headed out to explore a new street about 15 minutes away by foot, and I’m glad I did! The sun and the breeze welcomed me right away. I felt my body move effortlessly as I took in all the sights that I can’t check out when I’m driving. Plenty of flowers were blooming and fall decorations were beautifully placed on doors and on lawns. I found a fairy garden with toadstools for chairs and seashells marking a garden path. The shells instantly took me to Cape Cod for a restful mental break I hadn’t expected. I saw neighbors chatting on every street and many waved to me – it boosted my spirits to see such camaraderie! It felt like I was in a Disney movie! I came home refreshed and content.

If you desire an experience like this, I encourage you to find a friend, partner, or child and ask the question we all love to hear, no matter our age: “Want to come out and play?”

Written by Melissa Rupp, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Fulton County

Reviewed by Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Franklin County

Sources:

Elkind, D. (2008). Can we Play? Greater Good Magazine. https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/can_we_play

Gray, P. (2008). The Value of Play. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/freedom-learn/200811/the-value-play-i-the-definition-play-gives-insights

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summer heat

Massive heat waves are hitting parts of the country and breaking records.  June has been a hot month with predictions that the heat will continue throughout the summer.  Summer heat can be dangerous.  The best defense against heat-related illness is prevention.  Staying cool and making simple changes in your fluid intake, activities and clothing during hot weather can help you remain safe and healthy.

Extreme Heat Safety Tips:

  • Never leave a person or a pet in the car in hot conditions while you run to do a quick errand.  People and animals can succumb to heat exposure and death very quickly in a hot car.  Cars can become overheated quickly and when overheated become like ovens.  It’s never safe.
  • Drink more fluids (avoid alcohol and high sugar drinks which can lead to dehydration)
  • Wear light clothing
  • Never leave persons, infants, young children or animals in a closed, parked vehicle
  • During the hottest hours of the day, stay inside.
  • Keep blinds and curtains closed from morning until the late afternoon to block extra direct heat from sunlight.
  • Supervise children during outdoor play, being sure to monitor them closely and frequently.
  • Stay on the lowest level of your home.
  • Use small appliances like slow cookers and tabletop grills instead of ovens and stoves.
  • Verify that seat belts and car seat restraints are not too hot before buckling yourself or anyone else into the car.
  • Go to a cool place.  Air conditioned movie theatres, malls or community centers.
  • Call and check on family, friends and neighbors.
  • Seek medical care right away if you become nauseous, start vomiting or experience cramps.

Protect yourself and your family from exposure to the sun and reduce your risk of sunburn, skin cancer and heat stress.

Source: emergency.cdc.gov

Written by:  Beth Stefura, M Ed, RD,LD.  Ohio State University Extension Educator, Mahoning County, Crossroads EERA, stefura.2@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Joanna Rini, Ohio State University Extension, Medina County, Western Reserve EERA, rini.41@osu.edu. Donna Green, BS, MA, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County, Erie Basin EERA, green.308@osu.edu

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One of the most concerning health related issues facing children today is the rise of childhood obesity. In fact, statistics say that one out of five children is considered overweight, and since 1980, the rates of childhood obesity have doubled and teenage obesity has tripled. In our hectic lives, we often look for convenience foods or fast foods that are not always the best nutritional choices. Another factor leading to the increase in childhood obesity is the lack of physical activity. The bottom line however, is that our children and families are consuming too many calories and are not physically active enough. As a result, more and more people develop chronic diseases such as diabetes which will affect their overall quality of life.

Researchers have noted that one of the strongest factors to support physical activity is the amount or time children spend outdoors. Children who spend time outdoors tend to be more physically active than those who don’t. In today’s video game society, it is more important than ever to make intentional plans to spend time outdoors. People today are spending more time indoors than ever before with some people spending more than 80% of their lives indoors!

For children especially, spending time outdoors can provide benefits that go beyond physical activity. Outdoor activities promote cognitive and social development through unstructured play with other children. Outdoor activities encourage imagination, through exploration of the natural environment. Some researchers suggest that exposure to light influences children’s’ moods, performance, sleeping patterns, and sensory development.child at play

One way to motivate children and families to spend more time outdoors is to foster an interest in nature. Taking your children to a local park, hiking in the woods, digging for fossils are all ideas on how to get your children active outside. So as the weather changes, get your children outside, let them explore, let them get dirty, and let them play towards fitness.

References:
Dietz WH. Overweight in childhood and adolescence. New England Journal of Medicine 2004;350:855-857.

Guo SS, Chumlea WC. Tracking of body mass index in children in relation to overweight in adulthood. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 1999;70:S145–148.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2008.

Institute of Medicine. Preventing Childhood Obesity: Health in the Balance. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press; 2004.

CDC. Physical activity levels among children aged 9–13 years—United States, 2002. MMWR 2003;52(SS-33):785–788.

Writer: Kathy Green, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Butler County.

Reviewer: Shannon Carter, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County.

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