A recent study by the National Trust has revealed that children in the UK spend half the time playing outside than their parents did! Here's 5 reasons why it is so important to enjoy the outdoors.
1. Increases physical health
Nowhere is better than the outdoors for running, jumping, throwing balls and catching. All these actions require motor skills that improve with practice. Studies show children burn more calories outdoors, helping to prevent obesity and strengthen bones and muscles. Playing in the sun builds vitamin D, which helps keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy.
2. Improves sensory skills
An optometry and vision study showed children who play outside regularly have better distance vision than children who are always indoors. This is because outdoor activities often combine a mix of all senses; sight, smell, touch, hearing, taste. On the other hand, children glued to television and electronic devices use only two senses (hearing and sight). This can negatively affect the development of their sensory abilities.
3. Increases happiness
Outdoor light stimulates a part of the brain which is essential to keeping our immune system strong and making us feel happier. Spending time in nature is can also improve mood and happiness.
4. Increases attention spans
Children who play outdoors regularly are more curious, self-directed and likely to stay with a task longer. Whereas children who spend most of their time indoors tend to have less exposure with activities that require initiation which can make them less likely to participate in new activities. Interestingly, a study of children diagnosed with ADHD found children with
the disorder who spent lots of time outdoors exhibited fewer symptoms.
5. Contributes to social and emotional development
Unstructured outdoor play helps children learn to take turns, share and develop other positive behavioural skills. They are more likely to be imaginative, explore and learn about the world around them using their own abilities. While they invent and play games with siblings or friends, these interactions help improve communication, cooperation and organisational skills!
These are just a few of the many mental and physical health benefits that spending time outside can bring. At Tyneside Outdoors our main purpose is to help children and young people harness these benefits and develop skills through the outdoor activities we provide in our groups. If you are interested in joining a group, head over to the the 'Get Involved' page for more information!