Find Your Family a Green Spot

I’m always on the lookout for family activities; but, I’m often surprised by the multiple benefits some simple family activities produce. For instance, taking the family to a “green area” (an area covered with grass with trees, birds, the singing of locusts, and sunshine) Young happy couple bicycles in the forest and holding handshas huge benefits for you and your family. You can enjoy a cookout, play Frisbee, sit around and talk, hike…whatever you want in the “green area.” It’s all a wonderful, fun time. But, did you know that spending just 30 minutes a week in a “green area” can lead to lower rates of depression and lower rates of high blood pressure. That’s right. A recent study actually estimated that we could reduce cases of depression in the city by 7% and incidents of high blood pressure by 9% if everyone spent 30 minutes a week in a “green area.” Even more, this study revealed that the more frequently people visit a “green area,” the greater their sense of social cohesion. In other words, the more time people spend outdoors in grassy, wooded areas the more they will work to promote the well-being of others, include others, create a sense of belonging, and promote trust. (Read the study at Health Benefits from Nature Experiences Depend on Dose)

You may be wondering…what this all has to do with family? It brings to mind a suggestion, a prescription if you will. Find a grassy wooded area near your home and visit it with your family once a week. Have a picnic. Go for a walk. Fly a kite. Sit together and read. Paint a picture of the scenery. Whatever you want, but do it outdoors with your family. If you do it once a week you have decreased the chances of depression and high blood pressure in your family. That sounds a like something I want to pass on to my kids! In addition, this study would suggest that playing outdoors as a family also creates an environment where each family member will feel a greater sense of belonging and trust. They will watch out for one another. In other words, they will feel a greater sense of security, trust, and belonging. I don’t know about you, but I want that for my family…and spending time in a “green spot” can help make it happen. So, consider this your prescription for a “green area.” Identify a “green spot” near your home. Visit it often with your spouse for a romantic walk, with your kids for a rambunctious game of tag, or with your whole family for an enjoyable picnic. Do this for 30 minutes once a week for a happy, carefree, intimate family.

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