Get Outside – Dirt Makes Your Kids Smarter

Kids soaking up some good old Mycobacterium vaccae!

If you still aren’t convinced that children who spend a good amount of time outside are healthier, then you need to consider the new study that reveals bacteria found in the soil not only lowers depression and anxiety but can also make your kids smarter! This new research, according to Science Daily, indicates “exposure to specific bacteria in the environment, already believed to have antidepressant qualities, could increase learning behavior.”

Dorothy Matthews, one of the researchers, explained that Mycobacterium vaccae, a natural soil bacterium is breathed in and ingested when people send time outside in nature. She goes on to say, “it is interesting to speculate that creating learning environments in schools that include time in the outdoors where M. vaccae is present may decrease anxiety and improve the ability to learn new tasks.”

I did a blog a while back about Richard Louv’s ground-breaking study, Last Child in the Woods, on nature deficit disorder. (See ). Research continues to support that children (and all of us) are healthier when we spend time doing gardening, hiking or enjoying other outside activities. Benefits include a decrease in blood pressure, anxiety and weight gain, and an increase in learning, well-being and vitamin D.

Get kids camping in the backyard in support of the National Backyard Campout.

You can encourage your children and grandchildren to get outside and ingest some M. vaccae this weekend in support of the sixth annual Great American Backyard Campout, sponsored by the National Wildlife Federation. On Saturday, June 26, thousands of people across the country will set up camp in their backyards, neighborhoods, or at state and national parks to enjoy the wonders and joys of sleeping out under the stars.  For more information about the Great American Backyard Campout, go to

If your child or grandchild would rather try their luck fishing, Jimmy Jacobs, editor of the Georgia Sportsman magazine, encourages kids to get outside and try angling.  According to Mr. Jacobs, 85% of

You can borrow equipment from Georgia DNR to get kids starting fishing.

Georgia’s present day anglers got their start fishing before the age of 13, and only 8% took up fishing as adults. So, exposing your kids to fishing now could develop a life-long hobby that connects them with nature and all its health benefits.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) sponsors many kids’ fishing events all summer.  The DNR even offers a fishing tackle loaner program so children can try fishing before they have to purchase any equipment.  For more information about the fishing tackle loaner program and fishing activities for kids in Georgia, go to

Get outside and ingest some healthy dirt!

Bonnie Helander

I am a writer and blogger with a specialty in gardening and a proud graduate of the University Of Georgia. I live in Peachtree City with husband, Dan, and enjoy hiking, gardening, being a member of the Peachtree City Garden Club and rooting for the Georgia Bulldogs!

June 23, 2010