The inside on why we should go outside

Why we should allow for more time spent outside during the school day.


As spring finally begins to arrive, the outdoors are becoming more and more welcoming. Leaves are unfolding and stretching for the sun, birds are chirping and nesting in trees, and the last of the snow has melted into streams and lakes. This should all serve as a reminder that going outside provides huge benefits to our mental and physical health. We should all try to adventure into the wilderness more, even if that’s just stepping out of our buildings and taking a breath of fresh air. This is why during our school day, we should be allowed to spend more time outside.

Some may argue that getting up and going outside would only serve as a distraction, but in reality, it’s the opposite. Going for a small break outside not only improves focus, but creativity and mood as well. A study published by the Journal of Environmental Psychology had students look out on either a flowering meadow or bare concrete roof and then perform a task designed to drain attention. The students who viewed the meadow roof made fewer mistakes and responded more consistently than the ones who looked at the concrete roof. This all shows that being able to step into the outdoors, even for a short period of time, would greatly increase general-well being and focus in a school setting. 

Green exercise, or exercise done outdoors, is a great way to stay healthy and get out of the house at the same time.  It not only improves our physical health but has positive effects on self-esteem and negative mood factors such as stress. These are things that could serve to be improved in high school. There is also evidence that suggests that we actually perceive exercise as easier when it is done outside, due to nature acting as distractive stimuli.

While about 40% of adults today had frequent access to green space when they were young, only about 10% of this generation does.”

— Vera Tanas

Being exposed to nature also leaves a long impression, as shown by a study done on around 900,000 residents of Denmark. The residents with higher exposure to green space at a young age had an about 55% decrease in mental illnesses later in life. This percentage holds up even after being adjusted for other factors such as family history of mental illness and socioeconomic factors. 

It’s been shown that children who are exposed to less natural environments when they are young eventually grow up to become parents whose children don’t interact much with nature either, creating a cycle. While about 40% of adults today had frequent access to green space when they were young, only about 10% of this generation does. This cycle of disengagement with nature creates a downward spiral. 

 Some of the problems with finding green space can be aspects of safety and ease of access. An area that is more isolated and remote, or close to a busy road, can receive less interaction due to safety concerns. Another issue springs up in the form of ease of access. If the transportation time to the area is high, or if there are no suitable footpaths to get there, this can lead people away from spending time there. 

Having more time to head outside during school would provide all of these positive benefits in a safe and easily accessible location. It would give a place to focus and relax to the many students and teachers already at school during the day, helping to solve many of the aforementioned issues with safety and ease of access. The school is relatively closed off from roads, and all of us come to school on an almost daily basis anyways. This is a great opportunity for opening up more connections to nature. 

Allowing for more time to spend outdoors at school, we could impart meaningful habits and messages to our students, create lasting bonds to the outdoors, encourage physical activity, and improve student’s mental health potentially for years to come. 

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Would you enjoy being able to spend more time outside during the school day?


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