Is this Your Kid? The Benefits of Time Spent Outdoors
FACT OR FICTION: Is Spending Time Playing Outdoors REALLY Good For You/ Your Kids Or Is That A Myth?
Those of us who were born before digital devices became hard to get away from played outside with sticks, stones, grass and whatever was available.
We played for long hours, had so much fun and always got into trouble with our parents for passing curfew. We negotiated for longer play time because we loved to play with our friends and be free.
Outside, mom did not tell us not to touch something or to be careful. Her prying eyes did not monitor us; adults did not restrict us. Playing outside was joyful. Most of us get nostalgic remembering those moments. We try to re-live those moments sometimes successfully.
When we get a chance, we step outside and watch other children play and live vicariously through them. However, today’s children are not playing as much.
Digital devices are now much more accessible and unfortunately studies have shown that children today will spend an average of 7 hours on screen.
Why It Really Is Beneficial to Spend Time Outdoors
#1 MAINTAINING A HEALTHY WEIGHT
Not playing outside has side effects most apparent being weight gain. A big part of maintaining a healthy weight lies in physical activity. Outside play allows children to be physical whilst having fun. They can play football, basketball, skip rope, jump on the trampoline, run, swing, slide and so much more.
All this amid smiles and laughter. Michelle Obama, aware of the need for child play launched ‘Let’s Move’ in 2010 when she was First Lady.
CHILDHOOD OBESITY STATS:
This was a campaign aimed at tackling childhood obesity with statistics showing that
> one in three children in the United States is obese.
> In the UK it is estimated that one in every five children is obese.
Being obese puts a child’s physical wellbeing at risk for cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance, breathing problems, amongst others. Being obese will also affect a child’s self-esteem and expose them to bullying compounding the negative effects on their sense of self-worth.
As a parent, one of the best things you can do for your child is encourage them to play outside. Schedule specific times when they must play outside and be strict about no devices at the time.
Join them when you can during play time, this way they will see your care-free, playful side. It will be fun for you and your children. Outside play will result in your children getting the physical activity they need to remain healthy without even realizing it.
#2 APPRECIATION OF NATURE
Playing outside, children get a greater appreciation of nature. They interact with trees, leaves, grass, soil, rocks, insects, and more.
They get exposed to the sun. Other than the obvious benefit of vitamin D, the sun also catalyzes the release of serotonin, a hormone associated with boosting mood, helps fight cancer, and can help with skin conditions such as psoriasis and jaundice. These children see the beauty of nature and the need for environmental conservation.
They ask questions such as, ‘why are some leaves yellow instead of green?,’ ‘why is the sky blue?,’ ‘why does the moon have patches?’ and even make simple observations like, ‘today the moon is shaped like a banana.’
This helps even during science class because they can relate theory to practical. Play during sunrises, sunsets, rain, snow, etc. will be joyous memories they can go back to.
#3 SOCIAL INTERACTION/ MAKING FRIENDS
Playing outside lets children come out of their shells and interact with others. Human beings want to belong.
For children playing outside, this means joining others in games and activities. To do so, children speak to others and learn to make friends in the process.
They also learn empathy for example when they try to comfort a playmate who is hurt or help them out with something.
Because children want to be liked and preferred by their friends, they also learn to take greater risks to achieve more thus impressing their friends, they learn to tell stories, they take up leadership roles amongst others.
These are crucial skills that they will need as adults, all developed outside in the playground.
Creativity and imagination are built during outside play. Children who play outdoors regularly are more curious, self-directed and likely to stay with a task longer.
Playing outside, children are stretched outside their comfort zones as every game requires overcoming obstacles and getting better with every level. This develops their ability to problem-solve, developing their creativity and imagination.
Success with every level of play increases their desire to try more difficult tasks and use more sophisticated objects. They want to win so much and, in the process, impress their friends. This is how outside play improves self-direction and resilience.
Being physically active will help your child in the classroom.
Even as adults, we can all attest to the advantage of consistent workouts and the effects they have on our ability to concentrate at work and stick through tasks longer. The other advantage that playing outside has on children is getting sick less often.
Playing outside has the two-fold effect of building them physically and exposing them to microbes which help increase their natural immunity levels and reduce the chance of autoimmune diseases. This means in class they can remain alert and attend most classes which is necessary for good academic performance.
Outdoor play equipment is designed to be safe and fun to use and devised to help your child develop mentally and physically. Using play equipment, children develop fine and overall motor skills, spatial skills, coordination, balance, core muscles, and agility.
At Trampolines Ireland, we offer a range of play equipment including trampolines, garden swing sets, football nets, basketball hoops, football rebounders, swimming pools, playhouses, and badminton and tennis sets. All these catering to the whole family.
When you are out with your children, take the time to observe them, allow them to make a few mistakes, do not be overly cautious with your children.
This way you communicate to them that you are happy with them taking risks even if they fail it is okay, they can always try again.