With the changing times, the definition of playing is also changing. Instead of going outdoors and enjoying the nature, they prefer to play games on mobiles or IPad. They prefer watching cartoons or animated movies rather than soaking the warmth of the sun outside. The means of entertainment might have changed but what haven’t changed are the multiple benefits children can gain by playing outdoors. Outdoor activities enhance health & mental performance and hands-on learning about physical forces and concepts. It also provides opportunities to learn social skills, overcome fears, and develop a lifelong connection with nature.
Let’s have a look at the benefits more closely-
- Reduces the risk of Nearsightedness: Kids who spend more time playing outdoors rather than reading or watching television a lot are less likely to become nearsighted. Though hereditary plays a pivotal role in developing sightedness, playing outdoors reduces the risk. It provides the eyes with a break from ‘close work’.
- Provides sunlight that is good for the body & brain: Sunlight exposure is very essential for the body as well as the brain. 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. It also helps them concentrate and may enhance the formation of synapses in the brain.
- Indulge in vigorous exercises: Playing outdoors helps the kids to work the body muscles and develop them. It can enhance muscle growth, reflexes, and blood circulation. It can also open doors to various sports. Playing outdoors in groups can help kids become team players and work in harmony. Also, it helps develop a competitive spirit.
- Freedom to develop athletic abilities: When playing outside the children have the freedom to move around and are not restricted by the constraints of four walls. It gives them the opportunity to run, jump, skip, and sprint around. It helps them develop the basic motor skills. It is given that playing outside helps children develop certain athletic abilities that they may not develop by staying indoors.
- Opportunities to learn new words & concepts: Playing outdoors provides hands-on exploration and experimentation. They can learn words for things that they can experience physically like movements, textures, touchable objects, and physical processes. It is easier to learn what melting is by experimenting with an ice cube in the sun. Going outdoors is an opportunity for kids to widen their sensory experiences, and gain an understanding of how things work.
- Helps recover from stress & enhances concentration: Playing outdoors in green spaces, close to nature or even taking a walk has a lot of positive effects. It reduces stress, enhances focus and mood. A study proves that kids become more attentive after playing in a natural setting.
- Helps children learn social skills: Children who spend their time playing outdoors in groups are more cooperative and social savvy. It acts as an opportunity to forge friendships and relations. Kids who actively participate in outdoor activities feel less stressed, more focused, and more cheerful. This contributes in maintaining healthy friendships and hone communication skills. It also helps them boost their confidence.
- Teaches to respect & protect the environment: Spending time outdoors helps the kids become one with nature and appreciate the beauty of everything it has to offer. They are likely bent towards acting responsibly towards the environment and contribute towards the preservation of forests and wildlife.
Along with kids, the parents should also keep a check on their kids’ outdoor activities. They can ignite an interest among their kids for playing outdoors by planning picnics and picnic games. This will also result in family bonding along with gaining the many benefits of outdoor playing.