Ponnada: Campus kids go outside

BY SRI PONNADA | APRIL 04, 2013 5:00 AM

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After managing to survive this year’s harsh winter weather, we finally have a ray of sunshine brightening up our days and our city. I can’t even explain how much I hated having to stay indoors for months because it was just too darn cold outside. But now as spring seems to slowly be creeping in, Iowans are rushing out the doors to soak in some sunlight.

One local organization, Take A Kid Outdoors — which is dedicated to providing immersive outdoor experiences to children in particular — had a gardening event at Earth Source Gardens, Rochester Avenue and Scott Boulevard, just a week ago. Judy Joyce, the president of Take A Kid Outdoors, believes that getting kids outside could greatly improve their health.

An important thing to keep in mind, though, is that these health benefits aren’t for kids alone. Students at the UI could take a lot from the Take A Kid Outdoors community and take themselves outside as well.

As we all should know by now, mental health among UI students isn’t particularly excellent. One in 10 men and 1 in 5 women reported at least one mental-health condition, according to the 2012 National Health Assessment Report — a survey that measures the health of college students across America. The report also highlighted that UI students’ self-reported health status worsened since 2011.

Students frequently work out at the Campus Recreation & Wellness Center in order to stay physically fit — so why not skip the Rec Center once in a while and take a walk or go for a run outside? You’ll be exercising your body and your mind.

Researchers at the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry have found that there are benefits to mental and physical well being from exercising in the natural environment.

The study showed that people who exercised outside felt more revitalized and had more energy. It also showed decreases in tension, confusion, anger, and depression among participants. Participants were more satisfied with outdoor activity and said that they would be more likely to exercise outside again.

I’m not one of those people who work out hard-core, but I do like to go for walks. I walk everywhere. And when it’s warm outside, as it was March 29, you’ll often find me lying on the grass somewhere. It certainly makes me feel very relaxed, and honestly, very happy.

That’s why I say: skip the Xbox Live and “Game of Thrones.” Live a little, and go play outside.

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