Beat the Heat! Enjoying Nature Despite the Temperature
The benefits of exposing children to nature have been proven again and again. One study in the National Library of Medicine even demonstrates how time spent in nature can aid victims of stroke.
According to Sandi Schwartz, author of “Finding Ecohappiness: Fun Nature Activities to Help Your Kids Feel Happier and Calmer”, “It is also critical that children spend more time in nature to balance out all the time they are spending inside staring at screens.” Schwartz states that, “It really can be part of a healthy daily routine, just as important as brushing their teeth or taking a vitamin.”
But Houston is just so hot during the summer! How can we give children this much beneficial exposure despite the dreaded heat?
Try these ideas to beat the heat:
Start With What Your Children Already Love
If they are artistic, try an outdoor art class. If they are athletic they might enjoy hiking, biking or swimming. If your child is into science they may be interested in a science and nature project such as those found at www.citizenscience.gov.
Hit the Water
Enjoying the waves at Galveston keeps you cool while getting outside. Or head to Huntsville state park where you can at least wade at the lake if you don’t want to swim.
Feeling really adventurous? A walk in the rain might be just the ticket to staying cool while enjoying nature.
Dress for the Weather
Bring plenty of drinking water and sunscreen on your adventures! A hat and a hand-held fan will also help out.
Pick a Shady Spot
The shade can feel up to 15 degrees cooler than full sun. For that reason save the Eastern Glades at Memorial Park with its wide open spaces to explore during fall or winter. The Houston Arboretum and Nature Center is a better choice because it offers trails with shade that should help keep you feel cooler. Not only that but it has the indoor nature center where you can cool off after a walk in the woods.
Head Out in the Early Mornings
Try getting out and about before rush hour if you want to enjoy cool morning temperatures. Surprisingly enough, the coolest time of day may be just after sunrise. The sun will rise just after 6:30 am during July so the earlier the better.
Or Late Evenings
Not an early bird? You may want to wait for evening. According to Almanac.com, the heat continues to build up after noon until the hottest time of the day is around 3:00 pm. Try taking a walk at Memorial Park after dinner to enjoy these late hours. Or even wait until it gets dark and take a look at nature with the help of a flashlight or lantern.
Visit the Cockrell Butterfly Center
No matter the season the butterfly center is always temperate and full of beautiful butterflies.
Bring Nature Indoors
If you want to beat the heat and still enjoy nature, try bringing nature home with you! A bird feeder outside your window will attract birds. Or try planting flowers indoors or creating a terrarium. Planting herbs to go on your kitchen windowsill can serve a dual purpose and help make your meals extra tasty. Even arranging your child’s desk so that it gets natural sunlight can be beneficial to their circadian rhythm.
According to Schwartz, connecting to nature indoors can be as easy as picking up a library book! “A recent study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found that you can reduce stress by simply looking at good nature images.” Listening to nature sounds can also be helpful. Schwartz pointed out a study in which participants “who listened to ocean waves had considerably lower muscle tension, heart rates, and stress.”
Whatever your choice in activities it’s clear that it’s worth the effort to continue enjoying nature despite the summer heat. Use these ideas to help get your child their daily dose of outdoors and nature!