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The Benefits of Outdoor Play

May 27, 2024

National Play Outside Day is celebrated on the first Saturday of each month, and that means on June 1st, you should head out the door with your kids in tow for some good ol’ fashioned outdoor play! Most of our fondest childhood memories involve playing outdoors in the sunshine and fresh air, with nothing but our imaginations to entertain us. In today’s digital age, kids are spending more and more time in front of screens, and far less time outside. This shift away from spending time in fresh air can negatively impact our little ones, as access to nature has been shown to reduce stress, depression, and anxiety. National Play Outside Day is a campaign that was created to encourage parents and kids to ditch the tablet and go outside for unstructured play to engage their minds and bodies. Being outside has many benefits for people of all ages, but it’s particularly important for kids and their developing brains and bodies.

A break from screens

Screen time is a divisive issue among parents, but whether we like it or not, screens are near impossible to avoid. We use our phones to connect with others, and for those whose families live far away, a screen can be the only means of contact with Grandma or Grandpa. A tablet can also give a parent a much-needed break every now and then, but what matters most is limiting screen time and encouraging healthy habits.

Making a conscious effort to spend time outdoors helps your little one take a break from the constant stimulation of technology, which gives them the opportunity to relax, recharge, and be creative. Outdoor play reduces stress, while screens can increase stress and anxiety, so it’s important to encourage plenty of unstructured play outside. 

Motor skills development

Kids who play outside develop more advanced motor skills than children who are mostly indoors. Outdoor play improves agility, balance, and coordination because an outdoor environment gives them plenty of space to run, jump, climb, and more. Outside, your child can play catch, kick a ball, climb trees, ride bikes, or climb around on a playground. There are plenty of chances to engage in physical activity, which builds a strong body and instills confidence. 

Better physical and mental health

Children who play outside more often are less likely to become obese. Being active outside burns calories and gets the heart pumping, whereas children who stay indoors use more technology and are sedentary. Additionally, being outside in the sunshine helps your little one get sufficient amounts of vitamin D to build strong bones and teeth, bolster their immune system, and improve their mood. Regular outside play and exposure to sunlight also regulates your child’s sleep/wake cycles and helps them get better sleep at night—a win-win for both your little one and you!

Boosted immune system

While adults tend to shy away from getting dirty, kids have absolutely no qualms about picking up earthworms, rolling down a grassy hill, or jumping straight into a muddy puddle (much to their parents’ horror). Watching our little ones with grass stains and dirt all over their clean clothes can cause some anxiety, but those healthy organisms that are present in dirt can do wonders for boosting their immune system. Children without regular exposure to the girls in dirt have increased risk of asthma, allergies, and autoimmune issues. Alternatively, encouraging your little one to play outside in the dirt stimulates their immune system to become more tolerant to simple things (like food and dust) and help fight off the bad stuff, which decreases their risk of allergies and overall strengthens their body.

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The Benefits of Outdoor Play

About the Author: Alice

Alice Mendoza is a copywriter and blog writer based in Los Angeles. She began writing for a baby brand while on maternity leave, and realized she had found her niche. Today, she writes exclusively within the baby space, using her BFA in Creative Writing and her own experience as a mother to guide her. When she’s not working, you can find her chasing down her toddler, going on walks around the neighborhood, or watching reality TV.

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