3 Benefits of Outdoor Play
There’s a lot of discussion these days about children, screen time, and too much time spent indoors. Many people are worried that, starting at a very young age, kids are spending too much time with their eyes locked to a screen, whether that be a smartphone, tablet, computer, or television. One great antidote to that problem? Letting children spend more time playing freely outside.
Outdoor play is something we cherish from our childhoods as a time when we were able to be free, have fun, and let our imaginations roam. But spending time outdoors is more than just fun. It offers some pretty incredible benefits, making it important for a child’s development. Here are three examples.
Intuitively, people know that it feels good to get outside and be in the fresh air. But there’s also a biological reason why being in the great outdoors is so good for us: namely, vitamin D. The major natural source of vitamin D for humans is through exposure to sunlight, and it’s a nutrient that is critical for our health.
Vitamin D keeps our bones strong, metabolisms healthy, and immune systems functioning. In fact, it’s so crucial that not getting enough vitamin D can lead to diseases like rickets and osteoporosis. That means that spending some time outside running around or riding a kick scooter or bike can play a big role in keeping kids healthy.
With the ongoing children’s obesity crisis in the United States, it’s important for parents to encourage their children to be as active as possible, building healthy habits from a young age. That’s why getting outside is so great. Most activities children are naturally drawn to when outside are fantastic forms of exercise. From playing tag to riding a kick scooter to climbing trees, outdoor play is active play, making it highly beneficial to children’s health.
In addition to physical development, it is incredibly important to help children develop socially so they can grow up to have fulfilling and happy lives. According to Dr. Claire McCarthy from Harvard Health Publishing, when kids only interact with other people in a structured setting, like in the classroom, they don’t learn everything they need to know about interpersonal dynamics.
On the other hand, playing outside offers the necessary freedom for a child to experiment and learn about social interactions. They can play games, take risks, cooperate, make up rules, learn to share with others, and so on. This helps contribute to a healthy social development.
So, go ahead, get inspired by your own childhood. Encourage your child to put down that iPad and get outside. It’ll do wonders for their health, wellbeing, and happiness.
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