The simplest thing can improve children’s health, well-being, and overall development. What was the most fun thing to do when we were children? Playing outside. For children playing outside can significantly improve their physical and mental health. It might not come as a surprise that playing outside can significantly boost children’s mental and physical health. However, we often fail to remind ourselves that children need to play, not necessarily inside, but outside.
Playing outside is a solution for the most common epidemics among children: anxiety, obesity, and depression, which are affecting a great majority of children and teenagers today. All you need is a bike and a friend to get physically active and to connect with your friend. Playing outside can improve anything from brain health, academic achievements, creativity and prepare children for the rapidly-changing workforce. By playing outside, children learn how to corporate, they are practicing and learning new social skills and they have time to bond with their friends. All of these behaviors are important for their mental health. It can also prepare them for the adult years when they need to put those skills that they have developed in practice.
Furthermore, playing outside can also reduce asthma, the incidence of allergies, improve their humanity and all of that time outside without computer screens can also improve their eye health.
Playing is an inexpensive intervention for helping children with their overall health. Unfortunately, today many parents have to force their children to play outside as they have to force them to finish their homework or to eat their vegetables. Some parents are not really keen on letting their children play outside without their supervision due to safety issues.
Many of us remember spending time with our friends outside, just playing and having fun with minimum supervision of adults. But times have changed, unfortunately. That time spent outside shaped our physical and mental health in a great way. Playing helped us create friendships, it taught us how social skills work and if we were physically active we were in good physical shape. Today, children spend more time inside than outside.
Sometimes all we need is to reflect on those fond memories for us to realize how those days of play were important for our overall development. Now, science is catching up to our intuition and they have confirmed that playing outside has a great impact on our physical and mental health. There is a great difference between playing outside and playing inside. When children play outside they move more, sit less and play longer. Playing in nature is really important since interacting with nature adds an additional value to our overall health.
When children are in nature they learn how to keep themselves safe. When they get their hands dirty, they are exposed to microbes that help them build their immunity. When children play outside they learn how to set goals, how to win, how to lose, how to deal with losing. They learn how to build resilience and develop social skills. Also, their eyes get the exercise they need to avoid short-sightedness.
For children to play outside they need time, space and freedom. The more time children spend outside means less time in front of computers, laptops and video games which have overall a negative impact on children’s health. Space should be arranged by the city or town in the form of parks, playgrounds or basketball courts. Creating space for children to play is an important part of any community. The last thing is freedom. Without freedom, there is no play. Some parents are afraid to let their children go outside, afraid their children will be kidnapped or something else will happen to their children. However, we should never forget the great benefits of playing outside.