Try Something New This Spring

By Bob Wattendorf

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Children and nature, now what could be more wholesome and natural than that? So, why all the fuss and need to designate April as national Children & Nature Awareness Month, and what can you do to get involved?

#Today's youth increasingly suffer from "Nature Deficit Disorder." The cure is simple and fun--Get Outdoors Florida!

The unfortunate facts are that Americans are becoming more tethered to electronic screens, joysticks and key pads, than they are to the panoramic view, sights and sounds of unbridled nature, or the feel of a fishing rod in their hands or fresh soil beneath their feet. According to the Keiser Family Foundation (2010), the amount of screen time increases with age, and school-age children are already spending 7.5 hours a day on electronic media!

Research published by the American Heart Association reported (Circulation, January 2011) that people who watched four hours or more of TV per day were 80 percent more likely to die from heart disease and 46 percent more likely to die from any cause, based on a six-year study that involved 8,800 adults with no history of heart conditions. Lead researcher David Dunstan (Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute) reported that each additional hour spent watching TV increased the risk of dying from heart disease by 18 percent and the overall risk of death by 11 percent.

The amazing thing was that these results were true even after accounting for nutrition, education level, overall health, age, smoking habits, cholesterol level and blood pressure.

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