Kids can spend hours watching TV shows on Netflix, playing games with their tablets, or falling down the rabbit hole of YouTube. Although fun and entertaining, these technology-based activities don’t provide any of the benefits of going outside. Not only do they lack the excitement and adventure of a romp in the great outdoors, but they can also damage a child’s health and development in the long run. So if your child spends most of the day playing with gadgets indoors, give them a gentle nudge to go outside. Spending some time in the fresh air will provide them with numerous physical and mental benefits.
Benefits of Going Outside
It’s the easiest way to exercise.
Biking, running, swimming, playing tag, walking the dog – all of these fun activities will get your child’s heart racing. And no matter what your age, everyone can benefit from daily exercise. It will help your child build strong muscles, improve their endurance and stamina, and enhance their heart health. Plus, if your child finds an activity they enjoy, they won’t view it as a workout. It will simply be fun!
It promotes better social skills.
Texting on a cellphone isn’t the greatest way to socialize. It encourages children to keep their eyes on a screen instead of speaking to the people around them. When children play outside (without their phones), they can participate in social activities. Simply playing a game of soccer with other neighborhood kids can improve your child’s social skills. They will make new friends, learn to share, and perhaps even build bonds that will carry over into adulthood.
It reduces stress.
Going outside reduces life stresses in children, according to a research paper from Cornell University. When kids are exposed to a green landscape, it boosts their resilience against stress. It also improves their focus and attention and helps them rest and recover more easily. In other words, kids who play outside think, feel, and sleep better than those who do not.
It prevents vitamin D deficiencies.
A lack of vitamin D in a child’s diet can lead to bone problems, diabetes, and heart disease. Thankfully, spending just 15 minutes in the sun each day provides enough vitamin D to help prevent future health problems. Although eating vitamin D-rich foods like fish and eggs may help, nothing gets this important vitamin in your child’s body like spending time in the sun.
It improves overall vision.
Staring at a screen for hours, whether a smartphone or a computer monitor, strains and damages your eyes. In fact, the blue light emitted from these screens can lead to cataracts or macular degeneration over time. Children can prevent these problems by going outside often and getting natural sunlight. Plus, by going outside, their eyes will also focus on both close-up and faraway objects, improving their vision and reducing their risk of developing farsightedness.
Don’t underestimate the many benefits of going outside. Encourage your child to spend time outdoors daily doing something they love. And if they aren’t used to spending time outside, help them dip their toe in the water by exploring different activities. You could teach them to play four-square, sign them up for a local little league team, or simply take them fishing . . .
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