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Spend 1,000 hours outside
Monique Koerner
Monique Koerner

I recently came across a really interesting challenge to get kids and families to be active. The concept is to have children be outside a total of 1,000 hours in one year. That averages about 3 hours per day. It is a yearlong challenge since everyone has ups and downs throughout our lives and a year would give the challenge plenty of times for those highs and lows. The website has resources for those living in harsher conditions, whether it is hot or cold. It is a “global platform for those who wish to reclaim childhood, reconnect families and live a fuller life” as defined by their website They have books, blogs, newsletters, podcasts, and trackers on their website to help you get started. And yes, there is an app for it as well! 

Our lifestyle has become increasingly convenient which also doesn’t require us to be very active. Modern day conveniences have caused us to become sedentary as we spend much of our time behind screens and devices. Unfortunately, this had led to an alarming increase in obesity, chronic disease, and mental health issues among not only the adult population but also youth. We are not setting our children up for success physically, mentally, or emotionally when they are behind screens a majority of their day. It is very difficult as a parent to set those boundaries as I have seen it in my own children. I’m hoping today’s article will inspire you to get outside and play with your children. If you don’t have children, get outside and enjoy whatever weather Kansas is bringing us.

Outside time/play has many benefits, probably too many to list here but I will try:

• Unstructured play - allows them the freedom to spend as much time as they would like exploring and with perhaps less supervision to experiment.

• Sunlight - the benefits of Vitamin D are well documented. We need Vitamin D for both physical and mental health.

• Gross motor skills - being able to develop the large muscles for coordination, balance and movement.

• Routines - build outside time into your day. Getting outside can be something to look forward to if your children are still at home or when they get home from school.

• Socialization - opportunities to be around other children. If they are young it is opportunities to observe other children. As they get older it gives them a chance to interact more with other children perhaps of different ages. It also gives parents an opportunity to meet other parents.

• Mental Health and Stress Relief - being in nature and/or physical activity is a natural stress reliever for all ages. It is just good to be outside and enjoy nature.

• Experience weather - I know some of the mothers are cringing (me included) but getting out in different types of weather provides a wonderful sensory and scientific lesson for children. Of course, we have to be safe but even a few minutes outside to play in the rain or snow can be a fun, memorable experience.

• Shared experiences - go outside with your children and enjoy those shared experiences. Those experiences create the attachment and bond they need for healthy relationships now and in the future.

• Sensory experiences - outside time gives a variety of different sensory experiences than inside. For example, different sights, sounds, smells, and feels.

• Science study - plants and animals can be studied throughout the seasons.

• Brain Development and Cognition - the best exercise for the brain is exercise is my favorite saying from Becky Bailey, Founder of Conscious Discipline. We have to move our body for our brain to develop. On the opposite end of the life spectrum if we are sedentary as we age we are more likely to develop dementia.

• Sleep - getting sunlight during the day and being active can help us sleep better.

Whether you actually keep track of hours or not, just get outside. Tracking helps us be more intentional and be accountable.  

Monique Koerner is the Family and Community Wellness Agent with K-State Research and Extension – Cottonwood District. You may reach her at 785-628-9430 or