Spring has Sprung!
Spring is finally here after a long and chilly winter, and we’re celebrating the simple pleasures of being in nature and soaking up the multiple benefits of spending time in the great outdoors.
There are so many reasons to ditch the screens and throw open your doors and windows on this first weekend of spring and spend some quality family time in the glorious sunshine!
So, why is sunshine so good for us?
Contrary to the popular belief that spending time in the sun is bad for us, a small amount of exposure is actually important for our health. We all require adequate levels of Vitamin D - a unique vitamin that is made from cholesterol in your skin when it’s exposed to the sun. It is estimated that almost half of the population does not get enough vitamin D, which has many important roles in the body and is essential for optimal health.
Vitamin D plays a key part in maintaining strong and healthy bones and low levels have been linked to serious health consequences, including:
- Muscle weakness
In addition, only a handful of foods contain significant amounts including cod liver oil, swordfish, salmon, canned tuna, beef liver, egg yolks and sardines, and you would need to eat these every day to get an adequate source.
It’s important to note that too much sunlight comes with its own health risks, including skin cancer, and we all need to remember to slip, slop and slap when spending extended time in the sun.
Put simply though, getting out in the sunshine is good for your health, as is spending time in nature.
Forest Bathing – what is it and what are the benefits?
Yes, forest bathing is definitely a thing and many communities around the world are now prioritising regular exposure to green spaces. The science is in and is proving that time spent in forests lowers our levels of cortisol (stress hormone) and blood pressure, and also supports the immune system much more than 40 minutes of indoor activity.
Research out of Japan – one of the most stressed and overworked nations in the world – is shining a light on the many benefits of spending time in nature. The Japanese term Shinrin-yoku (translated as Forest Bathing) was first coined in the early 1980s and is now a national pastime there.
Specifically, science has shown that trees and plants emit compounds knows as phytonicides, that when inhaled provide therapeutic benefits similar to a massage.
According to the science, these phytonicides can actually change our blood composition, increasing our protection against cancer by boosting our immune system and lowering blood pressure.
Forest bathing has now been adopted as an official health prevention tool in Japan. And in the UK, studies have shown that using green space in urban areas, and incorporating diverse vegetation and wildlife, has improved the health and wellbeing of the community.
Now you have plenty of reasons to get out into nature this weekend and into your backyard for some much-needed Vitamin D!
The humble backyard, or nearby park, can provide the ideal space for a plethora of activities for the whole family this weekend. Why not get out for a game of backyard cricket or footy, a picnic on the lawn with your dad on his special day, or a simple BBQ lunch in the park.
Get Out and About
Lawn Solutions Australia has suggested a collection of games suitable for the whole family to get you out and about this weekend, regardless of the size of your backyard patch.
Why not build your own set? Make it big, stack and play. Great for all ages and abilities.
Slip and Slide
Probably best left until the weather warms up a little, but you know kids – they’ll jump at any chance to play in water, even with the smallest hint of summer!
This is one of the quintessential Aussie backyard activities, and one you could also make yourself with a few tarpaulins strung together under the sprinkler. Just remember to not leave the tarp on the grass for too long.
Bocce is a great activity for the whole family. But don’t forget to let dad win this time - it is his day after all! You could even start an annual Father’s Day competition with family and friends.
This is another great game for our DIY lovers. Make your own dominos from left over wood or whatever else you might have laying around - you could even supersize the pieces by using foam. Prepare and paint, add the dots and away you go with another great activity for the whole family.
If you’re happy for a little coloured paint on your lawn, this is a great game for all ages and always loads of fun! Alternatively, you could always just take the Twister mat outdoors or make your own with coloured paper plates or mats.
So, what are you waiting for? Why not get the kids off their screens for this Father’s Day weekend and out into the backyard to boost their Vitamin D levels… or even try a little Forest Bathing?
The weather looks fine and sunny across the state and it’s the ideal time to wake from your winter hibernation and come and join young Harrison (pictured) in the great outdoors.
See you all out there in the sunshine!