KC-NL-June-2018
Take it outside- the importance of outdoor play

Take it outside- the importance of outdoor play

The benefits of children playing outdoors

Jack is sitting on the computer, Ella is watching her favourite TV programme and Jordan is playing a video game. In our technologically dominated society, this is a common scenario.

Today’s children spend less time outdoors, despite the fact that child care experts have proven that playing outside is crucial for healthy physical and mental development.

This means that looking after your child’s health and well-being may be as simple as encouraging them to play outside.

According to a research paper published in the Porto Biomedical journal- outdoor play promotes healthy physical, cognitive, social and emotional well-being.

Here are some of the benefits for children playing outside.

Physical well-being

Outdoor activities such as -running, jumping, rolling down hills, building forts and climbing trees, develops your child’s muscle strength and builds strong bones. Engaging in outdoor games also develops children’s gross motor skills.

According to the American Academy of ophthalmology, outdoor play can reduce the chances of children developing myopia, commonly known as nearsightedness.

Children who play outside also get regular exercise, which helps them burn more calories and prevents- obesity, heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.

Outdoor play increases vitamin D levels and builds up the immune system. Even in the winter months, it can help kids stay healthy by getting them out of stuffy rooms and into the fresh air.

Cognitive well-being

Outdoor play has also been proven to increase children’s attention span. An increase in oxygen and fresh air from playing outside can improve your child’s memory and thinking skills.

The features and stimulus of an outdoor environment create different learning opportunities that cannot be replicated indoors.

An outdoor environment is constantly changing, children can experience freedom and the natural elements and must learn to adapt to their surroundings. Which in turn encourages cognitive development.

Social Well-being

Playing outside with other children promotes social skills. While playing outside children are more likely to invent games and take turns.

As they invent, they make up rules, keep score and cooperate. This leads to development of communication skills, number skills and social customs. When your child is playing outside they are learning to make friends, resolve conflicts and follow rules.

Emotional Well-being

When children play outside they have freedom of movement and can choose the activities that they enjoy. This makes them feel happy and less stressed. According to research spending regular time outdoors lowers the chances of your child experiencing anxiety and depression.

 

By Liesl Silverman

Photo credit: freepik.com