Outdoor Spaces Are Important and Here's Why

The year is 1975. Victoria is the ‘green state of Australia’. Front lawns and backyards glow with the glisten of morning dew. Parks are spilling with picnickers and children playing on the green turf at noon-time.

Fast forward to the present. Remember when kids used to beg to go outside to play footy or go to the park? Well, that is quickly becoming a distant memory.

If you were born before Y2K, then maybe you were spared an outdoor-less childhood. Cue the infiltration of the screens. Modern-day #millenials struggle to remember a time pre-iPad or iPhone. As interactive child games transitioned into an intangible cluster of pixels in apps, there has become less and less need for kids to go outside and have a kick of footy. Psychological studies have shown that excessive exposure to screen time has the potential to create grey matter atrophy – literally the deterioration of the brain. So, without a lifestyle incorporating the great outdoors, are we compromising the younger generations?

Having access to and encouraging the use of outdoor spaces as part of an integrated lifestyle is integral to fostering the sense of childhood curiosity and creativity. It allows children to become autonomous experiential learners – supporting healthy brain function. Parks and play equipment inspire kinaesthetic learning, where children can build upon physical skills such as muscle strength and balance.

It’s no secret that outdoor spaces help us to live fuller, healthier lives. All aspects of health; physical, social and mental health, can be improved by outdoor activity. Most club sports necessitate an open, green space. Rather than being just a grassy expanse, this is a place of community, where camaraderie, teamwork and physical activity combine to unite individuals into a group.

Parks and greenery aren’t just for decoration. They’re here for mental health too. In a world where everything and everyone demands our attention instantaneously, finding solace and peace within the natural environment is modern-day meditation. Simply sitting on a park bench, eyelids softly closed, basking in the sun, feeling the gentle breeze brushing over your cheeks… don’t you feel more relaxed? It works! Or alternatively, finding a quiet beach – somewhere where you can wade or swim, lulled by the soothing waves and rejuvenated by the salty tide. It is good, old-fashioned meditation.

The year is 2018, and much of our spacious parklands and gardens have been sacrificed for towering concrete developments to support Melbourne’s population boom. But just because they are become fewer and farther, it does not mean we should completely eliminate outdoor spaces from our lifestyle – the grass is always greener on the other side… of an apartment complex.

Mentone Traders' Association