Did you ever read an article that warning children about the dangers of playing outdoors? Probably not. Did you ever read about the danger of too much screen time? Probably.
There are multiple studies that confirm the psychological well being of children is improved by playing outdoors, and for most, this will come as no surprise. For many it may come as no surprise but is often overlooked. For this reason we support Action for Children, and their research into the improvement of children’s wellbeing by playing outdoors.
At Little Sport Star we encourage sport as we like to see children having fun, away from screens and enjoying the outdoors. Naturally, we were interested in the research by Action for Children that associates the link between outdoor activities with the psychological and emotional wellbeing of children, and we fully endorse their findings.
Here are ten reasons why playing outdoors is good for you, and why we think playing outdoors and sport are good for your children.
1 The freedom to play in the fresh air, running free and “being a kid”, away from the confines of four walls, is important to children. When playing outdoors, there are fewer rules, which is good for children’s creativity and they build a sense for flair and endeavour.
2. Outdoor play improves your mood. Outdoors children are exposed to natural sunlight, which stimulates the production of vitamin. Vitamin D enhances mood by helping to release serotonin in the brain.
3. Playing outdoors helps relieve stress by reducing the stress hormone, cortisol, in the brain.
4. Children need to escape the noise and hassle of stressful urban environments. Those children living in urban environments have to fight the traffic to and from school, there are more limits to where they can or can’t play, fear of predators is all too much for many parents who now prefer not to let their children out at all. What we consider normal, is actually a stressful, toxic environment for children and can lead to anxiety and depression.
5. When playing outdoors children discover nature and how the world works for themselves. They learn not to be frightened of a bit of mud or a scratch on the knee when they fall over. We like to see children develop “grit and perservence” by picking themselves up and moving on. All too often, children are stuck by a setback and we as parents are too prone to dive in and resolve the problem for them.
6. When children are playing outdoors with their peers, they learn how to interact. There is no online substitution for the contact that children have with one another. Chat forums just don’t qualify. Children might fall over, they might squabble but they’ll learn to pick themselves up, resolve their issues and learn from their mistakes.
7. Regular exercise is an essential part of keeping fit, maintaining a healthy weight and combatting obesity. We are faced with an obesity crisis and as parents we need to consider how we raise our chidlren so they grow up fit and healthy. It is our conviction that children need to get outside and move their bodies on a regular basis.
“We are concerned that too many children have become addicted to screens before they even start pre-school.”
8. Exercise, especially through sport and play, helps to stimulate your children, strengthen their muscles, improves their balance and fine motor skill and is generally good for their physical health and development.
9. Regular exercise in the fresh air is linked to better sleep patterns and sleep is so important for children’s growth. Playing outdoors then helps children get the quality rest at night, which is vital for their health and physical growth.
10. We encourage parents to lead by example. If mum and dad are healthy, there is a greater chance the kids will want to grow up fit and healthy too, so get yourself up and go play outdoors!