8 Benefits of Outside Play That Are Backed By Science
At some point in their lives, most kids are told to go play outside. It’s something that every generation has heard, whether they were sitting on the living room floor listening to radio shows or playing with handheld game consoles.
Like with many parental suggestions, playing outside has numerous benefits that go far beyond keeping kids busy. The more time kids spend playing outdoors, the healthier and happier they turn out to be.
Read on to learn eight key benefits of outside play that are backed by science. There’s more to outdoor play than breathing fresh air. After you learn more about what happens when kids spend time outside, you may be tempted to go join them on the monkey bars.
1. Outside Play Means More Vitamin D
Kids need lots of proper nutrition, which includes vitamin D. There are supplements kids can take, like a daily vitamin, that has what they generally need, but it’s free to send them outside to soak up some sun.
Sunshine has natural vitamin D that’s absorbed into your skin. When kids come in contact with it, it does a few things. The first is that it balances their metabolism which may spike with unhealthy diets. Vitamin D also helps kids retain calcium, which is needed to strengthen bones after they drink their daily milk.
2. More Playtime Increases Motor Skills
Consider how kids play while they’re outside. They’re running around, throwing toys, kicking balls and maybe even somersaulting. It all requires hand-eye coordination and motor skills, especially in younger kids.
That’s why starting in preschool, kids are encouraged to play outdoors. That’s how they develop their motor skills they’ll use for the rest of their lives.
3. Physical Play Sets Up Good Health
Every time kids go outside, they come in contact with germs and bacteria that is normally kept out of their home. Although they may get sick from this contact, it actually builds their immune system so they can fight off more illnesses as they get older. A little exposure is one of the reasons kids should play outside as often as possible while they’re still young.
4. Nature Means Fewer Triggers
Kids diagnosed with ADHD have certain environments that trigger that are more distracting than others. Recent studies found that when kids with ADHD spent time outside, they had fewer reactive symptoms than kids that spent time indoors. It’s a free way to improve kids’ lives without upping the dosage of a potential medication.
5. Outdoor Activities Inspire Imagination
Playing in an area that has no obvious borders, like walls and a ceiling, triggers the cognitive abilities in kids’ minds to imagine new possibilities. As their ability to use their imagination grows, they’ll be more instinctively creative as adults.
6. Natural Environments Increase Sensory Skills
Sensory development is essential for all kids, but especially those who were diagnosed with some form of autism. While it’s good to invest in things like sensory toys, playing outdoors develops the sensory skills that kids need in the same way. Explore the sensations of touching outdoor play equipment and natural plants as a second layer to sensory skill practices.
7. Playing Outside Prevents Nearsightedness
People commonly assume that vision problems are related strictly to genes, but studies have shown that’s not true. Kids who play outside experience slow axial growth because they’re exposed to outdoor lighting. That growth is what causes nearsightedness, so slow it down or delay it entirely by letting your kids play outside.
8. Spending Time Outdoors Stops Obesity
There are many factors that play into the likelihood of a child becoming obese, but outdoor play has been shown to make obesity less likely for kids across the board. Children facing other contributing factors like being less active at home and living in unsafe neighborhoods also had a decrease in BMI by the end of the study.
Time to Get Outside
If your kids are reluctant to leave the house, it’s time to get outside with them. Come up with family activities that will make the outdoors fun. They’ll want to go back for more whenever they can get the chance, without even knowing all the ways they’ll benefit from just being outside.