Muddy Knees and Smiling Faces: The Positives of a Daily Dose of Outside Play for Kids

With the lure of electronic screens in all shapes and sizes tempting your children with interesting activities all day long, it may be difficult to convince them to go outside. You may also be reluctant to expose your child to the dirt, viruses, and dangers that lurk outside your home. Here are some reasons why you need to work harder to do just that.

Fresh air makes healthy kids

Even prisoners in incarceration are entitled to 60 minutes of fresh air each day. It’s important to schedule an hour of outdoor play for your child or to ensure that they are getting that fresh air time at school or daycare. Your child will get a healthy dose of Vitamin D from the sun, even on a slightly overcast day. This is a great mood lifter during the long months of winter when daylight hours are shorter. Dress your child for the local weather forecast and ship them outside. Being exposed to fresh air also helps to build a healthy immune system, so your child will be less susceptible to colds and other viruses.

Outdoor play fuels the imagination

The world is a big place. Encourage your child to get outside and discover it. “Free range kids” are given few items for play but rather they are challenged to make their own fun, simply by being outside. Remember the good old days when you were growing up?

Maybe you had a bicycle, a ball or a hockey stick but you probably didn’t need much else in order to keep yourself busy until the street lights came on and it was time to return home. Leaving a child to his or her own devices, with trees, parks and play structures within easy access, allows them the freedom to use and build their own imagination. They are learning the lifelong skills of self-reliance and independence.

Play builds character

All you need is one more kid to make a game. Organize a play date, or take your child to the park so that they can team up with a buddy for a game of catch, one-on-one or hide and seek. If you end up with a throng of children looking for entertainment, introduce them to one of the games you grew up with. You don’t need much in the way of equipment for Kick the Can.

Games that encourage running, climbing and jumping are great exercise. And even if it isn’t time for a team practice, you can organize a quick game of ball hockey, basketball or Frisbee. Participating in team sports helps your child to learn about leadership and collaboration.

Every time you encourage your child to take an hour outside, you are helping them to develop a love for a healthy, active lifestyle. They might even discover a future career during their outdoor adventures, as a conservation officer, park ranger, biologist or naturalist. An hour of outside play a day is just what the doctor ordered.

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