Science says your kids need to spend more time outside

Your kids can thrive in the Riverstead community. (Photo courtesy of Riverstead)

Today’s kids and teens spend an average of six and a half hours per day in front of a screen—often as a substitute for quality, outside time.

As outdoor play has become a thing of the past, Dr. Robert Zarr, a pediatrician at Unity Health Care in Washington, D.C., coined the term “nature-deficit disorder” to describe the negative health effects of being too isolated from the natural world. Research shows that too much screen time (more than two hours per day) can affect a child’s weight, heart health, diabetes risk, and mental health.

But when you’re surrounded by sprawling mountains, miles of winding rivers, and acres of nature preserve, immersing your children in the outdoors is easy. That’s why people from all over are moving to Riverstead, a new outdoor community in upstate South Carolina. The Riverstead founders firmly believe that a thriving neighborhood is one where children can run barefoot through the grass, swim and fish in a gently flowing river, and ride bikes through the woods.

Here are a few science-backed reasons why immersing your children in a life of nature-filled recreation is good for their health—and how your kids can thrive in the Riverstead community.

Nature encourages physical exercise. A study published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity found that the activity levels of 11- to 13-year-olds rose relative to the number of trees in their neighborhood. Not only is Riverstead abundant with green space, but all residents have access to six miles of multi-sport trails with room for hiking, mountain biking, and jogging. Your kids could also take advantage of more than two and a half miles of Saluda River frontage, perfect for fishing, canoeing, kayaking, camping, and swimming.

Playing outside promotes creativity. According to the Child Mind Institute, “unstructured style of play” allows kids to “interact meaningfully with their surroundings. They can think more freely, design their own activities, and approach the world in inventive ways.” Riverstead boasts hundreds of acres of nature preserves and multiple treehouses, where children can play make-believe until the sun goes down.

Living in a green environment enhances a sense of belonging. Research in Health & Place shows that the outside natural environment can be “therapeutic and healing” and kids who live in greener environments report a stronger sense of “place.” In interviews with 71 children ages 12 to 19, good health was defined as “being outside” in a safe, clean, green, and livable space. Riverstead offers many unique areas for neighborhood gatherings and community parties, like The Barn, the Pavilion and Pool, and The Harvest House.

Being in nature develops deeper family connections. A survey published in the Journal of Experiential Education revealed that camping could enhance family relationships. Researchers surveyed 60 families across 18 camps and found that 60 percent of respondents say family camp experiences reinforced good parenting, and 86 percent of respondents indicate that camping strengthened family relationships. Good thing Riverstead has family campsites and outdoor gathering spaces for all residents to take advantage of.

Are you considering calling Riverstead your next home? Call 864-650-5503 or visit to learn more.