The Healthy Benefits of Outdoor Play For Kids

The Healthy Benefits of Outdoor Play For Kids

In this age of technology, “Go play outside!” is probably the last thing your kids want to hear. Hours upon hours are spent watching television, playing video games and using the computer. There are so many benefits of having your child return to the basics of imaginative play. By instilling a love of the outdoors with exploration and imagination, you can encourage your child to live a life of fitness and health. Here are some ways to get them excited about going outside!

Physical Fitness

With obesity on the rise and so many people living a sedentary lifestyle, it is of great importance to start moving again. By getting your kids to play actively, they can learn that fitness is fun instead of drudgery. Many children should be meeting the goal of at least one hour a day of physical activity. In today’s time-crunched society you may think that an hour a day is excessive, so you can also break the hour into shorter chunks of 10-20 minutes. Have your child walk the dog, take a bike ride to the store for you, or work with you to do some outdoor chores.

The best way for your child to get involved is for you to lead by example. Bringing your whole family into the program will help to provide support and incentive. Take nature hikes around the neighborhood or go on family bike rides. You could create a fun obstacle course in the backyard for your child and their friends. It can be as simple as playing Frisbee, or as challenging as playing team sports. When your children see activity as fun it will help to instill in them lifelong healthy habits.

Boosting Brain Power

Increasing your child’s activity levels can have a number of important effects on their levels of intelligence, as well as their ability to focus. It has been shown that being physically active has a positive influence on our  children’s concentration, memory skills and behavior in the classroom. Simply standing and moving around more can help to boost their creativity, intelligence and planning skills.

There is a strong positive relationship between a person’s physical fitness and their I.Q. score. Exercise can affect the brain by building important neural connections that are directly responsible for the regions of the brain that guide planning and directing of actions. These connections are integral to impulse control and also to providing the focus your kids need to succeed. When you make fitness a priority it can result in increased academic participation, better grades and even higher standardized testing scores.

Self-Esteem and Social Skills

Exercise and outdoor play can help to raise your child’s self-esteem in an real biological way, by releasing endorphins in the brain. Endorphins are the body’s natural “feel good” chemicals that actually help to boost confidence and help your child to manage stress. Through physical activity you can encourage them to feel both competent and confident throughout all aspects of their life. It will also provide them with a healthy body image that is important in their development of self-esteem.

Social skills can also be an important benefit of outdoor play and fitness. By playing with other children or joining a sports program, they will learn such important constructs as leadership and empathy. By playing as a group, children can be empowered through team building and social interaction, which is crucial to setting them up for healthy behaviors in adulthood.

There are so many benefits to getting your child up and moving again. It will improve not only their health, but also their sense of well being. You can really hit a home run with this idea if you get the whole family involved in some regular activities.  Children learn best by example, and if you are doing what you can to be fit then they will follow right behind you.

About Amy Irving

Amy Irving has an avid interest in anything and everything health related and writes extensively for this field. At one stage, her passion for the topic made her think about obtaining some type of certification in the field. However, she realized she was probably learning just as much by researching and writing her articles. And having a lot more fun whilst she was about it.