Playing outside is one of the greatest joys of childhood, but it serves a larger purpose than just being a way to have a good time. Spending time outdoors is a crucial part of healthy growth and development, according to the National Center for Physical Development and Outdoor Play. Improving your child's health and well-being might be as simple as sending him outside to play.
Playing outside is a good way for your child to get some exercise. With one out of three children overweight or obese, being active is critically important for the health of children, and playing outside gives your child plenty of opportunities to be active. Children who don't get enough exercise are at an increased risk for heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure, according to the National Center for Physical Development and Outdoor Play. Outside play helps your child gain motor skills as well. Running, jumping, rolling down grassy hills, building dams with sticks and collecting rocks improve your child's physical development so that he gains muscle strength and builds strong bones.
Mental and Emotional Benefits
When your child plays outside, he's most likely running, leaping, skipping, yelling and laughing. Playing outside gives your child free time to pursue activities he enjoys, which makes him happy and less stressed, according to the National Association of Early Childhood Specialists in State Departments of Education. Taking a break to play outside gives your child an increased focus in the classroom and can reduce behavior problems as well. Regularly spending time outside can lower your child's risk of anxiety and depression too.
Playing improves your child's memory, thinking skills and ability to learn. The National Center for Physical Development and Outdoor Play reports that playing improves your child's gross motor skills, which increases his ability to process and remember new information. Playing also enables your child to block outside information that might distract him from learning new things on his own and in the classroom. Spending time outside allows your child to discover new things and make sense of the world around him as well.
While playing outside alone is certainly beneficial, when your child plays outside with other children, he is learning about relationships and how to behave as a member of a group. Spending time outside as part of a larger group of children allows your child to make friends, resolve conflicts and express his feelings. He also learns how to follow rules, and he gains self-control skills.