Flying kites is a typical childhood pastime in America, yet when we grow older, we tend to forget how much fun it can be. Being able to navigate a kite as the wind tugs it every which way in the sky can be an enjoyable experience for the whole family. You have to admit, when you look up and see a kite soaring through the air, it puts a smile on your face. Not only is flying a kite a great way to enjoy the outdoors, but it can also offer a few health benefits that you might not realize.
Here are the Top 10 from Health Fitness Revolution and author of the book ReSYNC Your Life Samir Becic:
- Exercise: Kite flying puts you in an environment that’s conducive to outdoor play. If you like to get your kite in the air with a running start (even though the wind usually does the work for you), the sprints could help get your heart rate up. If you want to raise your heart rate while the kite is still up in the air, try kiteboarding. And once you’ve packed away the kite, you might be tempted take a walk, run, or otherwise enjoy the outdoor setting.
- Socializing: While most kites can be flown by one person, kite flying is often done in a group, whether it’s simply a fun family outing or an organized festival or competition. As outdoor activities go, it’s unusually inclusive, open to individuals of every age, size, and physical ability. A beautiful kite is also a natural conversation starter – an excuse to create happy memories with loved ones or make an acquaintance with a fellow kite flyer at the park. For more ideas on how to get active with your kids, read our article here.
- Spending time in nature: Flying a kite in an open field or on the beach puts you closer to nature, an environment that offers plenty of mind/body benefits. We wrote about the health benefits of being in nature here. Being outside and experiencing nature, whether it is a small patch of grass or a tree in an urban setting, or a park, or the countryside, helps to reduce anxiety and depression, and benefits your mental health.
- Mindfulness: Being mindful of your current surroundings fosters acute awareness of the here and now. That awareness, in turn, has a number of proven health benefits, including improved pain management and decreased anxiety and depression. Research has also shown that it’s associated with anatomic changes in areas of the brain involved in memory, learning, and emotion.
- Good for the eyes: Kite-flying is also good for eye health. Gazing at the blue sky above can help better regulate eye muscles and nerves, which helps alleviate eye fatigue and can prevent myopia.
- Good for the neck: As we look upward, our necks open, an important counterbalance to looking down or at eye level. Those who sit at a desk all day are at high risk of cervical disease, and while flying a kite, one can maintain the cervical spine and spinal muscle tension. This promotes the flexibility of ligaments and vertebral joints and prevents degenerative changes, and increases bone metabolism, which can help prevent cervical disease.
- Boosts creativity: Kite flying develops creative thinking, both in the making of the kite as well as flying and adapting it to changes in the wind.
- Reduces stress: Kite flying will regenerate energy and has a way of reducing stress and tension of everyday life. Watching a kite drift across the sky, it’s easy to become relaxed, temporarily letting go of today’s headaches and tomorrow’s deadlines.
- Promotes self-expression: Kites are a form of personal expression and beauty whether purchased or handmade. Making or building kites engages the creative process on the right side of the brain. Visualization, planning, concentration, coordination, problem solving and other skills can be developed and fine tuned.
- Beauty: A colorful kite soaring gracefully overhead is a lovely sight. Making your own kite can be an act of artistry and creativity. But even the selection of a store-bought kite is a mode of personal expression and a celebration of what’s beautiful to you. Think of it as having happiness on a string.