Benefits Of Outdoor Play
There are many benefits of outdoor play for children. Not only is it fun for children, but at a time when child obesity rates are at an all time high and children are spending more time than ever in front of screens like computers, televisions, and other electronic devices, outdoor play forms a cornerstone of childhood health. Most people know that outdoor play helps children build healthy bodies. What they don't know is that it helps them build healthy minds, as well.
Here are just a few of the benefits of outdoor play:
Outdoor play helps children develop healthy levels of cardiac fitness. Open spaces give them the room they need to run and increase their heart rates, a critical component of cardiac health and obesity prevention.
Outdoor play gives children the opportunity to exercise both large and small muscle groups as they explore their environment. Not only do they run outdoors, but children also jump, crawl, and climb. They pick up leaves and look under rocks. All of these activities develop coordination and build large and small motor skills.
Outdoor play increases children's levels of Vitamin D. This is critical in decreasing their risk for heart disease and diabetes, as well a long list of other health problems. This extra Vitamin D is acquired through natural sunlight, but don't forget the sunscreen!
Outdoor play increases children's critical thinking skills. Some studies show that it also increases performance on reading, writing, and math tests.
Outdoor play reduces children's stress and leads to healthy emotional development. Children experience stress in many forms from many sources these days. Outdoor play is one of the best and most healthy ways for children to release stress.
Outdoor play helps children learn about their world. How do leaves sound when you step on them on different surfaces? How does the wind feel? How does mud feel between your fingers? What does a forest smell like? All of these are things that simply cannot be adequately learned from books or indoor activities. They are just the beginning of many things that children learn from being outdoors. Some of the concepts are simple, but they also learn more advanced concepts that become the basis for physics and other sciences, like why balls and rocks roll downhill, but not uphill, and what happens when water flows over dirt repeatedly. Children are natural scientists, and outdoor play is their laboratory.
Outdoor play promotes the development of social skills. When children are outdoors playing with other children, they learn and improve many social skills like taking turns, communicating verbally and non-verbally, negotiating rules, and adapting to different social situations. These are skills that are very difficult, if not impossible, to learn while they are playing alone indoors.
Children learn most when they are playing. When they play outdoors, that learning benefit is increased to include an impressive list of health benefits. So, when the opportunity comes for children to play outdoors, open the doors and let them play!