Why outdoor play is vitally important for children

Why outdoor play is vitally important for children

Children are spending an increasing amount of time indoors due to all the technology that can be easily accessed at home. Indoor technology has replaced traditional outdoor playtime. Yet, outdoor play offers social, mental and physical benefits that many children are missing out on.

Here are five reasons why parents should encourage outdoor play: 

1.    Combat Obesity

Technology is turning more of our kids into couch potatoes, and the lack of exercise is the main reason why kids are becoming obese. Children should be active for at least an hour a day, which means they should be running, climbing and jumping outdoors.

2.    Improve Mental Health

Spending time outdoors has been found to increase lifespan, reduce symptoms of depression, stress and anxiety, decrease smoking rates and reduce the symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Spending time outdoors is also beneficial for immunity development, due to our bodies being able to create important vitamin D after sunlight exposure.

3.    Connect with Nature

Being outdoors helps kids value the importance of the natural environment. When they learn about climate change, extinction of species and other biological affects at school, they are more likely to care about their own impact on the planet if they have experienced nature for themselves. For example, if a child plays in the garden and curiously observes bees pollinating the flowers, and then they hear about the endangerment of bees at school, they will care that one day they may not see bees in their garden anymore. Being disconnected from nature fosters an indifference to environmental causes.

4.    Life skill development

Through experiential and physical education children are able to learn various important life skills such as problem-solving, social skills, negotiation, and creativity. Playing outdoors with a sibling or friend will teach them self-control and how to abide by rules. Building a fort teaches them about the physical properties of various materials – how to balance things on top of one another, what material is best to use as a roof that will keep out the sun and rain etc.

5. Cultivate Creativity

Playing outdoors encourages creativity because having no access to technology will force them to be innovative and use of their imagination. Just like how it was generations ago, children will be able to integrate pieces of nature into their games by using their imagination. Think of when toys were too expensive and we made use of sticks as magic wands and stones were the substitutes to marbles. Similarly, experiencing beautiful scenery may inspire them to write, draw or paint what they observe outside.

One way to break these indoor technology habits is to send your children to a holiday camp where outdoor play is made exciting again. One such camp is Sugar Bay Resort, a popular holiday camp for kids that has the perfect formula for outdoor play and freedom of choice. Children check-in their cellphones when they arrive and the kids have so much fun outdoors, that they never complain or ask for their phones back. When they return home, they often return with a renewed desire and the self-discipline to disconnect.

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