Today I found this great little article on the BBC about children napping out doors in Nordic countries.
It is common place in these countries for children to nap out doors to get the best of the fresh air. They are wrapped up like little parcels in wool and animal skins so no matter what the temperature they are nice and warm, but they get the benefit of breathing in cool, crisp air.
The reason for this tradition is a belief that children are healthier if they spend a lot of time breathing in the fresh air. It is thought that children who are kept in central heated houses with soaring temperatures while the out side temperature is in the minus' are more likely to become ill more often. The reason being that germs thrive in warm conditions not cold ones.
One of my former childcare colleagues visited Denmark to see their Forest Schools and children napping outside was common place at their nurseries. This usually produces gasps from most people when she recounted this fact, but the thing to remember is that the children are wrapped so much that they aren't cold at all, but they are breathing in crisp, fresh and mostly germ free air.
I have to say I fully agree with this theory and practice. I have always been angered by the common myth that exposure to cold weather caused colds and flu. It is more likely to be caused by that the fact that most house holds turn up the artificial heat, jam the windows closed and stay indoors as soon as October begins, creating the perfect environment for all those cold and flu germs. Turning the central heating off and opening most of the windows would not only blow the germs away it would also make it very uncomfortable for the ones that remain.
I don't suffer from colds very often and I'm sure this comes from growing up in a house without central heating. The drafts may have been cold but they meant the germs didn't want to stay around for long!
When I do suffer from a cold; stuffed up nose, soar throat, fuzzy head etc, all I want to do is open the window and get the breeze in. As long as I wrap myself up warm, it doesn't matter how cold the room is. That always makes me feel better. A blocked nose is always helped by going out in the fresh air.
You can see the article here, it is made up of some fantastic accounts of out door napping both modern and old.