In the days of yore, it seemed the only thing that could keep a child indoors was a rainy day. These days, on the other hand, many children prefer to spend most of their free time inside, playing video games, exploring the Internet, and watching TV. This transition from outdoor to indoor play influences children in numerous ways, many of which are negative (as we discussed in our previous blog post). Today, however, we’re focusing on the positive: the benefits of being outdoors for kids. From health to creativity to conservation, you can’t underestimate the importance of engaging with nature during childhood.
Benefits of Being Outdoors for Kids
Improves health. Playing outdoors can help children increase their fitness levels and build strong and healthy bodies. It can reduce the risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and a variety of other health issues. Children who spend time outdoors also tend to have better distance vision than those who primarily play indoors. Plus, active children are more likely to become active adults.
Reduces stress and fosters creativity. Just being outside can greatly reduce a child’s stress levels. Playing in the great outdoors is relaxing, soothing, and naturally healing. Experts have found that children who play outdoors on a regular basis tend to be happier as well as healthier. Plus, playing outside can foster creativity as children create their own activities instead of relying on their video games, phones, and laptops for fun.
Promotes social skills. Playing outside in an unstructured way promotes a range of social skills, as children will naturally meet other kids whilst running around and being active. These interactions will improve their social skills, including making new friends, sharing, and cooperating with others.
Limits electronic use. It’s not a great secret or surprise that children spend a lot of time looking at screens these days: phones, computers, TVs, tablets . . . Although electronics are useful in many ways, they also lower children’s attention spans, stymie physical fitness, and limit face-to-face communication. Prevent an addiction to electronics by encouraging your child to play outdoors every day.
Encourages an appreciation for nature. Building a connection with nature as a child can foster curiosity about the world as well as a greater understanding of animals and wildlife. In addition, a child’s relationship with nature will affect their attitude and behaviors in later life. People who appreciate the environment are more likely to protect it and to be concerned about conservation, global warming, and other environmental issues.
Now that you know the benefits of being outdoors for kids, grab your little one and head out into the fresh air. You could have a picnic, toss a football around, go to a playground, or (of course) go fishing!
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