Best-selling author and renowned nature advocate Richard Louv speaks about the value of outdoor experiences.
There is a way to boost creativity, reduce stress, and enhance your overall health and well-being. It might sound like a too-good-to-be-true miracle drug. But it’s not. It’s as simple as going outside.
Louv spoke on campus recently about the tremendous value of spending time outdoors, and the ill effects kids, adults, and society can suffer if such experiences are neglected. When Louv wrote Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder (2005), the positive impact of nature on physical and mental health was more anecdotal than evidential. The book became a celebrated best-seller, making “nature deficit disorder” part of the national dialogue, especially among parents, educators, and researchers.
Today, thanks to Louv’s influence, there is a substantial body of evidence that proves nature does the body and psyche good, and negative consequences (obesity, attention disorders, and depression) arise when screen time overrules outdoor time.
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Through his writing and his speaking, Louv aims to inspire (current and future) educators, health professionals, parents, developers, and conservationists to take action—starting right in their own backyards—to embrace the transformative and restorative powers of nature. Not only will doing so help us build better communities and economies, he said, but it will enhance our own health and well-being, and relationships with those around us.
While Louv is pleased with the progress made as evidenced by such programs as Family Nature Clubs—networks of people who have formed communities that gather for group outings—and the Every Kid in a Park campaign, he said more work is needed, especially as society becomes increasingly plugged in—“The more high-tech we become, the more nature we need.”