10 Benefits of Making Sure that Children Play Outside

Along with use of TV, computers and iPads here is a reminder of 10 Benefits of making sure that children play outside

If you haven’t made some rules for your children to get outside and go climb a tree, pick some flowers, read a book in the garden or play with a pet, kick a ball, etc.here’s some reasons why you perhaps should. Studies show outdoor time helps children grow lean and strong, enhances imaginations and attention spans, decreases aggression, and boosts classroom performance. In addition, children who spend time in nature regularly are shown to become better stewards of the environment.

Benefits of taking kids outside:

1. Physical & emotional well-being: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends 60 minutes of daily unstructured free play as an essential part of children’s physical and mental health and social development (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2007). Children who play outside are more physically active, more creative in their play, less aggressive and show better concentration (Burdette and Whitaker, 2005; Ginsburg et al., 2007). Play protects children’s emotional development; whereas a loss of free time in combination with a hurried lifestyle can be a source of stress, anxiety, and may even contribute to depression for many children.

2. Lower levels of childhood obesity: Outdoor play increases physical activity levels and builds active, healthy bodies, an important strategy in addressing the obesity epidemic (CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health, 2008).

3. Lower levels of ADHD: Researchers at University of Illinois report findings that indicate exposure to natural settings may be “widely effective” in reducing attention deficit symptoms in children (American Journal of Public Health, 2004).

4. Improves concentration and school performance: Offering sufficient outdoor time improves the overall health of our children while lengthening attention spans, diminishing aggressiveness, improving test scores and ultimately advancing learning.

5. Sunlight is a natural source of Vitamin D: Lack of outdoor time and inadequate doses of sunlight are creating a generation of children deficient in Vitamin D, setting them up for increased risk of bone problems, heart disease, diabetes, and other health issues (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2009).

6. Outdoor time improves eyesight: Several studies reported in Optometry and Vision Science indicated children who spend more time outside during the day tend to have better distance vision than those who favor indoor activities. A Duke University study found that a child’s chances of becoming nearsighted, if he or she has two nearsighted parents, are about 6 in 10 for children who spend 0‐5 hours outside a week, but the risk drops to 2 in 10 when outdoor time exceeds 14 hours a
week (The 12th International Myopia Conference, Australia, July 2008 ).

7. Children who play outside grow up to be stewards of the environment: The most direct route to caring for the environment as an adult is participating in “wild nature activities” before the age of 11 (Wells and Lekies, 2006).

8. Enhances imagination and sense of wonder and exploration; Kids who play outside are more likely to use their own imaginations, inventions and creativity while playing.

9. Better sleep: Outdoor play provides children with the perfect opportunity to run and play which leads to better sleep.

10. Have a greater appreciation of the arts, music, history and literature: Spending time outdoors in nature develops an appreciation for the beauty of nature and all living things, as well as developing creativity and wonder, leading to a greater appreciation of the arts, music, history and literature.