The National Institutes of Health identified COVID stress syndrome as a legitimate disorder which has made a debilitating impact on our children especially. Hippocrates said, “Nature itself is the best physician,” as Joann Ayuso, a fitness trainer and health coach from Providence, RI, well knows. In 2018, she founded Movement Education Outdoors to provide opportunities for all children, especially those of color and with limited resources, to enjoy the great outdoors for renewal, and begin to recover themselves and, hopefully, regain a sense of normalcy. See why time in nature is not only a balm to the soul, but also an important key to our on-going physical, emotional, and mental well-being and just maybe a way to save and inspire the next generation.
R.I. Programs Explore Health Benefits of Being in Nature
By Annie Sherman / ecoRI News contributor
Walking along the wooded paths of King/Benson Preserve in Saunderstown, RI, Joann Ayuso saw the stress drain from the youths she was guiding. Their shoulders relaxed, smiles and curiosity replaced tension, and they were able to loosen up. One teenager told Ayuso that it was an amazing opportunity to be outside with friends, while another said it helped him reinvigorate his academic studies.
As a Providence health coach and fitness trainer, Ayuso said this is precisely the reaction she hopes kids will have when they experience nature safely and equitably. That is why she founded Movement Education Outdoors in 2018, to provide opportunities like hiking, snowshoeing, camping, and cross-country skiing to Rhode Island youths of color and those with limited resources.
The outdoors has become the balm our pandemic-weary selves needed, during a time when mental health, physical health, and well-being are in jeopardy nationwide. The National Institutes of Health identified COVID stress syndrome as a legitimate disorder, akin to post-traumatic stress disorder, while Mental Health America reports nearly 20 percent of all adults suffer from some form of mental illness, continuing the trend of declining mental health.
“The pandemic brought so much stress to all of us, whether you’re Black, Brown or White,” Ayuso said. “Stepping outside, getting 10 minutes of Vitamin D, or forest bathing, listening to a brook and birds for 15 minutes, it all changes patterns of neurotransmitters in our brain. Indigenous people have known that for thousands of years — we don’t need research to know that being outside and being in community is beneficial.”
Evidence abounds on the interconnectivity between kids and nature, and that time outside reaps myriad benefits. The healing power of nature across all ages impacts concerns such as weight management, stress relief, improved concentration and memory, increased… CONTINUE READING…