Good Prescription: Fresh Air and Exercise

March 6, 2012 by · 4 Comments 

This morning I took my dog for a slightly longer walk than usual because I’ll be away much of the day.  We went to a local park, and I let him off leash (don’t tell the city fathers).  As I watched him bound away from me, I lengthened my step and breathed deeply.  As I did so, I began to feel more energetic.  I felt the “sludge” of early morning clear from my brain.  I am not a morning person.

This simple experience reminded me of what I have seen over and over with children who have ADHD or anxiety or Asperger Syndrome.  Getting outside to move around helps calm nerves, improve focus, help transition to sleep.  It might not do all of these for your child, but even some could be a big help.

You might wonder when your children could have time outside when they have homework, tutoring, music lessons, and two working parents. In addition, many people live in cities where getting outside to shoot some hoops or kick a soccer ball is not so simple.  This is just a simple reminder that it can be worth your while to find ways to incorporate outside activity in your day.  Perhaps your child could walk home from school with friends or siblings.  Or  perhaps you find a park nearby that you can visit a couple of days a week.

Incorporating outside activity into your family’s routine involves setting up some routines.  If your child has grown to expect to use TV, computer or video games, whenever he is not doing homework, you would need to change the expectation.  I don’t say this is easy.  But parents can do that if they make it fun and positive.

Notice that I am not recommending playing on sports teams, though this would serve much the same purpose.  If your child enjoys playing sports, that is excellent.  However, many of the children I see have poor coordination.  After elementary sports the teams get more competitive, and these children no longer enjoy the team sports.  But your child can still enjoy getting outside and running around or riding a bicycle.  This is a lifelong habit that you can help instill.  Fresh air and exercise — good for the nerves, attention and spirit.


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