Technology and safety issues have encouraged children to spend more time sitting on the couch rather than exploring the great outdoors. This is creating a host of issues from obesity to life-threatening medical conditions. A child who was born in 2015 has an average life expectancy of around 78 years old. Going outside can provide many benefits to a healthier life, for both parents and children alike. Here is why it is so important to get outside with your kids.
Increased Self Esteem
According to a University of Sydney report, teens have an easier time making friends when they spend a significant amount of time outdoors. This can give them a greater boost to their self-esteem. Parents can encourage this boost by getting their kids involved in outdoor sports. There are approximately 13.46 million people that play either baseball or softball at some point during the year. Why not find a league near you where you can both spend more time outdoors? There are numerous outdoor activities you and your child can enjoy. If you don’t like sports, then you could both go hiking or play in the park. Go for a walk on the beach and feel the sand underneath your feet. Find planned outdoor activities in your community that you can go together as a family.
Spending most of your time indoors can lead to increased anxiety, stress, and depression in both children and adults. Children are required to stay seated for hours at school. Many adults spend much of their time confined to workstations that have shrunk to 39 square feet on average. Getting more sun can increase Vitamin D levels that can help relieve these negative feelings. A study from the Nation Center for Biotechnology Information showed that spending time in forest environments can decrease pulse rates, blood pressure, and cortisol levels. It can also help calm nerves and promote better sleep. As adults, we don’t spend anywhere near the time playing as we did as children. Spending time having fun with our children at play can keep us calmer and happier.
Better Cognitive Function
When your kids complain to you that they’re bored, what they are really asking is for you to entertain them. Instead of spending all kinds of money on various activities, you can tell them to go outside and play. This puts them in a position to find ways to occupy their time. Being outside helps children develop creativity and boost their cognitive function by putting them in situations where they can use their imagination. As a result, they start exploring the world around them and find inventive ways to engage with nature. When kids are with their friends outside, they start to make up all kinds of games with their own rules. As kids make up their own games, they build skills that help them plan, negotiate, and prioritize. This can help them solve problems they face during their life and sharpen their minds like diamonds, the hardest substance on Earth.
Enhanced Sensory Development
Nature has the ability to stimulate all of the senses. Children will be exposed to new sounds, smells, and tactile surfaces. It is expected that by 2050 almost 4.8 billion people will be affected by short-sightedness. The increased screen time we have with electronic devices may be contributing to this growth. Spending frequent time outside can reduce the risk of short-sightedness. Even just one hour per day can expose children to enough natural light to improve eyesight. Not only that, but knowledge about different terrains could come in handy later in life. If you and your family are into off-roading, for example, your kids can quickly pick up on some essential facts, like how there are four main types of off-roading tires and each is suited to different terrain.
Boosts Immune System
Going outside can help boost the immune system and fight off disease. By getting physical activity, children can lower their risk of developing diabetes, heart problems, and other serious medical conditions. Being cooped up indoors can expose children to harmful bacteria and viruses that thrive in warmer environments, especially during the wintertime. Being in nature exposes you to healthy microorganisms that may be able to prevent the development of allergies and asthma. Playing with your child can help you build up your immune system as well.
As children play sports and games with others, they learn more about who they are and how to interact with the world around them. Even if child obesity data (almost 11% of children between ages two and five were obese in 2008) is improving, getting outside can help with so much more. They learn about teamwork and leadership. They become more self-reliant and independent as they figure out how to handle unfamiliar situations and emergencies without adult supervision. They figure out how to overcome setbacks and obstacles. This can help them be able to tackle anything life throws their way throughout the remainder of their lives.
Only one in three adults receive the recommended amount of physical activity each week, but as parents, it’s up to us to be healthy role models for our children. If you’re struggling to get them to spend more time outdoors or are worried about their safety, why not find ways to go out with them and have fun together? You both can benefit from a healthier lifestyle. In fact, why not go out and play right now?