7 Awesome Reasons to Ensure Your Child Gets Plenty of Outdoor Play Time
If you compare your own childhood to that of your child’s there are bound to be a few stark differences. For one, most of us grew up in a time when we were allowed far more freedom to play out in the local neighbourhood or local park with friends without constant parental supervision. As parents we have become warier of ‘stranger danger’ than our own parents were. As a result, kids today spend far more time indoors at home, and technological advances mean that quite often, time at home is spent in sedentary activities such as playing on a tablet or games console or watching television.
So it is especially important to encourage your child from an early age to play outside. In fact, there are many benefits of outdoor play for children, some of which may even surprise you!
Okay, let’s start with the most obvious benefit – health. Outdoor open spaces provide children with the opportunity to be more active. This helps them to build strong bones, increase fitness levels and burn off any extra energy, which brings us to another huge benefit (to both you and your child) of outdoor play…
Daily exercise is a great way to ensure a better night’s sleep. But, evidence suggests that exercise outside is even more beneficial to a good sleep routine and good quality sleep. A study at John Moore’s University found that babies sleep longer when they are exposed to plenty of natural light in the afternoon. The reason for this, researchers think, is that the stimulus of light is what helps babies establish their circadian rhythms. This is what we refer to as our ‘body clock’ and they promote daytime alertness and help bring on sleepiness at night time. This is also true for children and adults. (If you have ever flown overseas and experienced ‘jet-lag’ you’ll know how having your circadian rhythm thrown out of whack can really effect you! Spending time outdoors is a great way to ensure the whole family get a great night’s sleep.
Communal outdoor spaces like parks, gardens and the beach give children the opportunity to meet other children and make new friends. Being allowed the freedom to play in a social setting encourages children to learn how to work in groups, take turns, share, as well as negotiate and resolve conflicts without adult input.
Whilst we don’t generally associate poor mental health with children, issues such as anxiety and depression are becoming more common for today’s children. Contact with nature can help reduce stress levels and positively impact conditions such as anxiety or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. There is even research showing that simply seeing green spaces can help decrease kids’ stress levels. The good news is that it also has the same effect for adults – so get out and enjoy some green therapy together! ( Do we need a link to where we got this from e.g source)
Sunlight provides us with a free and natural source of vitamin D which has a number of health benefits including preventing future bone problems, diabetes and even heart disease.
Image source: Cancer Council Australia.
For more information visit Cancer Council Australia.
Studies show that children who play outside are less likely to suffer from myopia (near sightedness) and are less likely to need to wear glasses than those who spend more of their time indoors. Japanese researchers found that the ultraviolet light that children are exposed to whilst playing outside allows children to develop better distance vision.