“First, the bad news: Americans are suffering from an acute case of ‘outdoor deprivation disorder,’ and the effects on physical and mental health are rising fast. Children aged 8 to 18 today spend more time than ever using electronic media indoors — seven and a half hours a day, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation — and less time in outdoor unstructured activity. In response to the No Child Left Behind law, 30 percent of kindergarten classrooms have eliminated recess to make more room for academics.
The resulting lack of physical activity and a growing disconnect with the natural environment have been linked in a host of studies to obesity and obesity-related diseases in children and adults, including Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, asthma and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, as well as vitamin D deficiency, osteoporosis, stress, depression, attention deficit disorder and myopia. Dr. Daphne Miller, a family physician affiliated with the University of California, San Francisco, calls them ‘diseases of indoor living.’
Now, the good news: There’s a simple remedy — get outside and start moving around in green spaces near and far, most of which are free. A consortium of physicians, health insurers, naturalists and government agencies have banded together to help more people of all ages and economic strata engage in health-enhancing physical activity in parks and other natural environments.”