I wanted to share this research with you conducted by Gwen Dewar, Ph.D and also based on my knowledge as a P.E Teacher. More information at parentingscience.com.
So what are the benefits of outdoor play for children and toddlers?
- Opportunities for hands-on learning 🏃♀️
- Reduced stress levels, better moods, and improved concentration 🙂
- More naturally-attuned sleep rhythms 💤😴
- Reduced risk of nearsightedness 👁
- Greater exposure to bright light, which enhances health and mental performance ☀
- Outdoor play is a good first step towards preventing obesity ❤
- Increased activity levels, and greater freedom to run, jump, and climb 🏃 🏃
Benefits of Outdoor Play;
➡ 1. Opportunities for hands-on learning 🏃♀️
Outdoor play doesn’t guarantee that a child will become more physically coordinated.
But when children play outside, they usually have more freedom to move around and explore a variety of motor skills. They can do things that aren’t typically possible indoors – run at top speed, climb tall structures, swing from their arms.
It's much easier to learn what squish means if you get to feel mud squishing through your fingers.
So, going outdoors is an opportunity for kids to widen their sensory experiences, and gain an intuitive, "embodied" understanding of how things work.
➡ 2. Reduced stress levels, better moods, and improved concentration 🙂
Not all time spent outdoors is equal. Nature experiences have a special, restorative effect.
For instance, studies suggest that nature walks trigger short-term improvements in mood and stress recovery. And there is evidence showing that kids become more attentive and focused after playing in natural settings.
➡ 3. More naturally-attuned sleep rhythms 💤😴
As parents, we think that by getting kids outside they will naturally sleep through the night because they are tired. But this may not always be the case.
What it can do is decrease the amount of time that it takes kids to start feeling drowsy at night. So outdoor play may help children fall asleep earlier in the evening.
The reason? Outdoor play exposes children to sunlight, and is a powerful cue for programming the brain's "inner clock." Meaning it begins producing the "drowsy making" hormone, melatonin, earlier in the evening.
So, if you've got a kid who stays up too late at night, increase sunlight exposure during the day. And make sure your decreasing exposure to artificial lighting at night. As it can suppress or delay the release of melatonin.
➡ 4. Reduced risk of nearsightedness 👁
Researchers believe that playing outdoors provides the eyes with a break from “close work,” like reading and therefore decreasing the risk of near-sightedness.
➡ 5. Greater exposure to bright light, which enhances health and mental performance ☀
Sunlight -- even the light we encounter outside on a heavily overcast day -- far exceeds the lighting we typically encounter indoors. So going outside makes a big difference in the amount of light exposure we encounter. In addition exposure to sunlight helps ensure that kids get enough vitamin D, affecting numerous health issues, including bone growth, muscle function, and even the timing of puberty.
Having adequate exposure to sunlight can also help tune the brains inner clock to maintain healthy sleeping rhythms.
And here's one more reason to care about your child's exposure to sunlight: Bright light helps kids concentrate, and may actually enhance the formation of synapses in the brain.
➡ 6. Outdoor play is a good first step towards preventing obesity ❤
Recently, researchers tracked changes in BMI (body mass index) for more than 2800 children (3- and 4-year-olds) and found for every additional minute of outdoor play, a child was 1% less likely to become obese. That is amazing results.
But we need to keep in mind: Studies of older kids fail to support the idea. So, it’s really during these early years that we are parents needs to promote lifelong physical activity as best as we can. So that out kids will continue these good physical health practices in later in life.
➡7. Increased activity levels, and greater freedom to run, jump, and climb 🏃♂️ 🏃♂️;
Outdoor play can boost activity levels, which is obviously a good thing. Kids need cardiovascular exercise for good health.
But when we count exercise as one of the benefits of outdoor play, we should keep in mind the limitations. Some kids need additional encouragement to be physically active. Merely going outdoors isn’t enough! Playing with a buddy or sibling can help keep kids active outside. And some kids may need more positive encourage from an adult. So, show them how to do it 😉.
-Tiffany Droge is the co-owner of Jumply, as well as a Melbourne mum of two to Tanner and Chase. She is a Health and Physical Education Teacher with a passion for the outdoors and making parent's lives easier. This is the foundation for all of Tiffany’s’ designs.
She wants to make it easier for parents to get out and about for awesome adventures with their little ones.