Between spending most of their day in school and a significant amount of time in front of a “screen” (such as television, computers, and video games), kids are simply spending too much time indoors. Think back to when you were a kid, while you may have watched your fair share of television, more often than not, you spent a majority of your playtime outdoors with friends. Your child doesn’t have to have free reign of the neighborhood to enjoy the outdoors, but simply sending your child out to the backyard can do wonders.
If your child is missing out on outside time, here are some reasons to get your child outside now:
Spending some time outdoors can make anyone healthier. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 6 children and teens are obese. While childhood obesity may be a result of various factors, such as diet, inactivity is also a culprit. By sending your child outside and encouraging play, he or she may be less likely to have issues with weight.
Children, who play outdoors, are more likely to have a better immune system and have the ability to fight off illnesses during the cold and flu season. Outside play can help children get exposed to dirt and bacteria, which can actually build a stronger immune system. So, let your kids get a little dirty. Remember, it’s good for their health (and dirt is easy to wash away).
Other health benefits include natural exposure to Vitamin D, which can help protect your child from future bone problems, heart disease, and diabetes. Just 10 to 15 minutes in the sun can boost your child’s Vitamin D.
Think of how your imagination thrived when you played outdoors. Outside play can encourage and enhance your child’s imagination. Whether he or she is playing in a tree house, playing pretend with sticks and flowers, or simply gazing at the clouds in the sky, your child’s imagination and creativity is hard at work. There’s something about the creativity of playing outdoors that cannot be duplicated in a videogame or on an iPad.
The more time your son or daughter spends outside, the more likely he or she is to respect and value nature and the community around them. Maybe there’s a bird nest in the backyard or a spider web forming on the apple tree. With gentle daily observations, your child is learning important lessons about life and the cycles within nature. By learning to appreciate nature, he or she may be more likely to encourage others to respect nature (i.e. picking up litter or leaving nature alone).
By allowing and encouraging your child to play outside, you are showing them that you value some free time and their well-being. Even 30 minutes a day, can reduce your child’s stress or worry and give them a chance to take a “break” during the day. If you want to your child to appreciate time outside, take the time to enjoy the great outdoors, too.