It’s plain to see that kids don’t play outside as much as they used to.
With so many popular high-tech toys and so much kids television and video available to stream, you’re more likely to see your kids sprawled on a sofa than playing outdoors in the backyard or neighborhood park. In fact, research in the Connected Kids report suggests that kids are typically spending a huge 6.5 hours per day in front of a digital screen, a figure that has doubled in a generation.
This screen time comes at a cost.
In startling research, Seattle Children’s Research Institute believes that the average 10-year-old is engaged in vigorous outdoor play for as little as 12.6 minutes per day. At the same time, people are hearing more and more about:
- Increased childhood obesity rates
- Poorer child and adolescent mental health
- Other physical, medical and emotional issues afflicting children today such as low energy levels, diabetes and heart problems as well as boredom and attention deficit disorder
As an adult, tempting your children away from screens and getting them outdoors is one of the most positive things you can do for them. Here’s why:
1. It Will Increase Their Fitness Levels
Vigorous outdoor play, such as running, jumping, sliding, swinging and climbing, gets muscles working and the heart beating faster. There are so many physical benefits to exercise for our kids, including:
- Lower chances of childhood obesity and related health issues, such as Type 2 Diabetes
- Improved cardiovascular health
- Stronger muscles
- Improved flexibility
- Higher energy levels for everyday tasks and school life
2. It Will Boost Vitamin D Levels for Healthy Growth
Vitamin D is vital for the human body. It helps regulate calcium levels and is essential for healthy bones. For growing children, good bone health is very important.
Low levels of Vitamin D can be damaging to skeletal health. In extreme cases, a disease like rickets can develop which can result in skeletal deformities and stunted growth. Therefore, ensuring your kids get enough Vitamin D is a must.
But the biggest source of Vitamin D is not diet; the vitamin is absorbed through the skin from sunlight. It is possible that children who rarely play outdoors are not receiving enough vitamin D for healthy bone growth and development.
Encouraging your children to venture outdoors more is a simple solution to this problem, as long as you follow professional advice on how to keep kids’ skin safe from the dangers of too much sun.
3. It Lowers Stress Levels and Boosts Mood Levels
Research from the University of Colorado in 2014 clearly demonstrated that getting kids outdoors had a positive impact on their emotional wellbeing. Playing outside helps children escape from daily routines, including the stresses and pressures of the classroom.
In the study, children found playing outdoors peaceful and enjoyable, with positive benefits to lowering stress levels. It was also found that children could nurture friendships and enjoy forming supportive social groups through their outdoor play, meaning the benefits were long-lasting.
Increased Vitamin D levels from playing outside also helps mood levels by helping to release serotonin, which is sometimes known as the ‘happy hormone’ for its positive impact on mental health.
4. It Gets Kids Closer to Nature
By playing outside, children can pay attention to the diversity and richness of nature, even in their own backyard. Kids can wonder at the tiniest creatures hiding away, and witness the birdlife and wildlife that regularly visit.
By helping your children learn to appreciate all these small things, you are helping to raise a generation that will go on to nurture and protect the planet as best it can.
5. It Boosts Creativity, Independence and Self-Confidence
Encouraging children to play outside, in less confined spaces, can help bring out some really positive personality traits.
Firstly, getting children to play outside in wide open spaces can be a less intimidating experience for them. Compared to busy classrooms or noisy play centers, children have the time and space to be themselves outdoors. They’ll be negotiating different environments, exploring and learning. This is perfect for nurturing self-confidence and independence.
Outdoor play is naturally more unstructured than much indoor play. This allows freedom, the opportunity for creativity, and for their imagination to run wild. Indoors, children are drawn to complex, high-tech toys with a very structured order of play; outdoors, children can entertain themselves with very little for hours at a time. This is ideal for developing the creative part of the brain.
Encourage Your Kids to Venture Out
The benefits of getting kids outdoors speak for themselves.
As a parent, it’s your job to make the outdoors a fun, positive experience that all the family can enjoy.
It starts in your own backyard: investing in some great play equipment and then spending time outdoors with your kids, supervising and playing with them is one of the greatest gifts you can give to your child.
AUTHOR BIO: Michael Davies is the Senior Account Manager at Sandleford, a trusted supplier of letterboxes and home security products and solutions in Australia. The company’s Swing Slide Climb range has grown and grown over the past 4 years, and together with Bunnings Australia, it has become one of the most exciting and innovative suppliers and developers of children’s play equipment in the Australian market.
Birthday Gift Ideas for Nieces From Aunts
As young girls grow, it is important for them to have positive female role models. Mothers and grandmothers are perhaps the most important, but not far behind are the aunts, whether adopted or biological. One of the fun parts of being an aunt is spoiling your niece on her birthday, and there are lots of ways to do so.
Although kids love to unwrap presents, something they may love just as much or more is spending quality time with you. Take your niece on a special outing with just the two of you. A trip to the aquarium, zoo or amusement park could be a wonderful experience for both of you. Include a stop for lunch or ice cream and just about all her dreams will have come true by the end of the day.
Start a Collection
Collectibles are a great way to start a fun tradition with your niece. She will love getting a new addition to her precious moments princess train set or a new purse every year for her birthday. Even though she may come to expect a certain type of gift, she can still look forward to adding something special to her collection.
Remember Her Interests
Keep in mind what your niece is interested in. Does she love science, books or art? Try and find something that will help foster her interests and you may just watch her confidence grow along with her talents. As she gets older, these interests will change, but she will always remember her first science kit or that series of novels that her aunt introduced her to.
There are lots of ways to be a good aunt, not the least of which is spoiling your precious niece for her birthday. Choose a gift that shows her just how special she is. These gifts and experiences make wonderful memories that she can treasure for her whole life.
Basic Camera Care All Photographers Should Learn
Whether you are a seasoned business portrait photographer with several years of experience tucked under your belt, or just a newbie who has started dipping his toe in the hobby, one of the critical lessons that you need to learn and master by heart is camera care.
Knowing how to care for your camera correctly will not only allow you to take care of your investment. Proper attention can also ensure that your gear performs optimally, enabling you to make the most out of it, whether for business or fun.
Store Your Gear Correctly
Dust, moisture, and sunlight are the greatest enemies of your photography gear. This should be your guiding principle when storing your equipment.
Cameras and batteries are best placed in a cool area where any temperature fluctuation should be minimal. High temperatures can damage your camera’s central processing unit and sensor, while cold temperatures can pose serious harm to its LCD.
Make sure that your camera’s storage area is well-ventilated with a humidity of around 35 to 45 percent. Excessive humidity, coupled with moisture, will only invite mildew and rust. Extreme dryness, on the other hand, adversely affects the lubrication of different parts which can fast-track wear and tear.
Whether you are storing your camera and lenses in a box or a bag, put some silica gel inside to counter moisture.
Invest in a Good Camera Bag
An essential aspect of caring for your camera is using a camera bag.
Most cameras are susceptible to dust and scratches which can be easily avoided by storing them in a proper bag. Furthermore, water-resistant bags can shield your precious gear from rain.
Make it a Habit to Turn Off Your Camera
Turning off your camera allows you to conserve the power of your batteries and increase the overall lifespan of these.
But more than conserving battery juice, there is another reason to turn off your camera’s power – to protect it from damage.
Avoid leaving batteries inside your camera as much as possible, especially if you are storing your camera for an extended period. Batteries can corrode when stored in a moist area or if left completely drained off.
Whether you are changing your lenses or removing the memory card or attached cables, make it a habit to turn off the camera first. Changing lenses when the camera is still turned on increases the risk of dust getting into the sensor. On the other hand, there is a significant chance that you can damage your memory card by pulling it off from the camera when it is still running.
Clean Your Gear Right
First things first – before you schedule a cleanup for your camera, make sure that you have a special cleaning kit on hand. Under no circumstance should you touch your camera with ordinary household cleaning materials.
Go to a reputable camera shop and invest in a few brushes, a microfiber cloth, and specialized cleaning solutions.
Don’t waste your money on canned air. You might see a few people cleaning their gear with it, but you can seriously damage your camera and its accessories if you insist on using it.
Canned air contains chemicals which are harmful to your equipment. Instead of canned air, consider using a brush or a squeeze bulb for hard-to-reach areas.
Protect Your Lenses
It is relatively easy to damage lenses. And unless you are willing to cough up money over and over again, it is sensible to invest in lens protection.
A simple filter can prevent breakage, cracks, dents, and scratches. Additionally, filters offer a variety of uses, depending on the type you get, ranging from glare reduction to reduction of shutter speed.
Care for Your Memory Card
Memory cards are a vital item of photography gear that can be easily overlooked. If you want to get more out of your memory cards, you need to learn how to care for these properly.
First, invest in a protective case which will help keep your memory cards dust-free. Second, do not expose the cards to heat. Place these in a cool, dry place. Finally, never put your memory cards near magnetic sources.
Camera care is an essential skill that anyone can and should learn, whether you are a hobbyist or a professional photographer. From a financial standpoint, this vital skill can help you save a lot of money. And from a functional perspective, keeping your gear in good order can help your equipment perform optimally.
AUTHOR BIO: Stefanie Descheemaecker is the Studio Manager at Stu Williamson Photography at The Palm Jumeirah – Fairmont Hotel in Dubai. She has been with the company for almost 3 years and is the driving force behind the success of the business. A keen amateur photographer, Stef combines her natural creative eye with a strong business acumen to help Stu Williamson Photography become the most trusted and successful photography business in the UAE.
How To Get In Shape While On Holiday
Vacation. This is a word that can mean so many different things. Some people consider vacation as a time away from all the hassles of their daily work. Others look at it as a way to break away from routine and there are also those who just want to use up their vacation leave. Whatever your purpose is on your next holiday, there is one important thing that you need to make plans for – your fitness regimen.
Shopping – A Great Form of Exercise
Since a huge chunk of every vacation is one’s shopping spree, then you might as well use this opportunity to stay fit. Imagine walking all over the different malls that you can find. To add to this, you also get to carry the things that you buy so this is an effective way to work off on self-indulgence.
Do not just buy the first items that you find. Ask around first so that you get to find the best bargains on athleisure while you also spend more time (and more energy) going from one shop to the next. Also, make it a point not to use elevators or escalators, utilize the stairs so that you will burn more calories.
Utilize the Hotel Gym / Boot Camp It
Yet another part of any holiday is the need to stay in a hotel. Most hotels now have indoor gyms so it would be a waste if you do not use the exercise equipment there. Being on vacation is no excuse to stop your exercise regimen. What you need, though, is your strongest willpower and an activewear. Have the determination to continue exercising and you will surely reap the benefits later on.
Another fun way to get into shape is to go to a bootcamp. These prove to be a super fun way to burn excess pounds, test your body’s limits, and learn new and positive habits. Imagine how much better you’ll feel in that bikini after you’ve been sweating it out in a boot camp!
Pack Some Exercise Essentials
If it is impossible to hit the gym during your vacation, then you might as well take any of these with you – light weights, exercise band or a jump rope. Toning your muscles isn’t all about sweating in the gym. Sometimes, you just need to be disciplined enough to exercise on your own and make do with your packed resources while vacationing.
Steer Clear of Some Foods
One other thing that is equated to vacation is food, especially if this is your first time to visit a certain place. For instance, if it is your first time to go to Germany, you might be instantly tempted to try their different types of beers and fattening cuisine. If you do not curb your urges, you could end up trying every bit of food that you could lay your eyes on – and this is not good for your figure.
The secret is to try one, unique meal at a time and then to couple this with your usual fruits and vegetables; this way, you maintain your healthy diet while still getting to taste exotic cuisine.
Swim That Body Fat Away
If your destination for your holiday vacation is a beach resort, then make good use of the resource that you have right in front of you – the rolling waters! Swimming is an activity that can help you trim down while keeping your heart healthy – technically, you are hitting two birds with one stone. If your vacation does not involve any water activities, then plan for a lot of walking. Rather than ride a cab, it is best to walk and enjoy the scenery or architectural wonders around you. Tuck that pedometer and you’re just about ready to walk around a city!