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Last Sunday, the Patriot News shared an article citing the American Academy of Pediatrics and the recommendation for playing outside. Here is a list of benefits for children;

*Better school performance. Time spent in nature and increased fitness improve cognitive function.

*More creativity. Outdoor play uses and nurtures the imagination.

*Much higher levels of fitness. Kids are more active when they are outdoors.

*More friends. Children who organize their own games and participate in unstructured group activities are less solitary and learn to interact with their peers.

*Less depression and hyperactivity. Time in nature is soothing, improves mood and reduces stress. It can also increase kids’ attention span, because things move at a slower pace than they do on the screen.

*Stronger bones. Exposure to natural light helps prevent vitamin D deficiency, making outdoorsy children less vulnerable to bone problems, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other health issues.

*Improved eyesight. Time spent outdoors can help combat increasing diagnoses of nearsightedness.

*Better sleep. Exposure to natural light, and lots of physical activity, help reset a child’s natural sleep rhythms.

*A longer life span and healthier adult life. Active kids are more likely to grow into active adults.

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Some things prompt thought and activity simultaneously. Hiking is one of those things. Hiking requires muscle activity and decision making. Hiking can prompt deep breathing and all senses on alert. It helps us learn to live with the gear we have and to live without unnecessary gear.

Hiking allows the imagination to become active. It helps you to see differently and to listen differently. Hiking helps you recognize the blurry line between beauty and danger. It helps you show reverence to both. Hiking will help you to appreciate undeserved gifts.

Hiking is like a trip to the cinema. The colors and acoustics and textures and contrasts and movement provide a live action performance going on all around you. Even the scenery reaches out to touch you. You respond to what is going on out there. And it responds to you. There is interaction. Hiking puts you into relationship. You are granted admission to a one time showing like no other. And you become part of the show.

Hiking surrounds you with life. You cannot take it all in. Annie Dillard says “in the top inch of soil, biologists found ‘an average of 1,356 living creatures in each square foot.’” Even if this figure is off by a creature or two this is a lot of life. She goes on, “ignoring them won’t strip them of their reality.” Life is in front of us, behind us, above us and beneath our feet. Hiking helps us understand that creation has us surrounded.

There is a practical element. Hiking will take you someplace. You might even grow from the experience. But the benefits are more than practical. You might make a discovery. You might get to know yourself. Hiking will do something to you. This is activity for the soul.

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