The benefits of getting outside

May 2015

Sometimes it is easier to spend time as a family in front of the TV or laptop, watching a film, or sitting down to dinner. But there are a wealth of benefits to getting into the great outdoors too, come rain or shine!

It's good for your health
Children need regular exercise, and enough to get them out of breath. Running, climbing, swinging, etc., will help build muscle, strengthen bones and help cardiovascular development too. NHS guidelines suggest children under five should exercise for at least three hours every day, and from ages five to 18, for at least an hour a day.

When playing on the swings for instance, children use all their muscles to hold on, to balance, they co-ordinate their bodies to propel their movements back and forth. They also gain an understanding of spacial reasoning whilst developing their strength and core.

Get in touch with the great outdoors
Outside, children are afforded direct contact with the natural world; they are able to ask questions about how things work, making learning about the weather or why the grass is green, for instance, more engaging as it is brought to life. They also begin to understand and respect nature and to see the interaction between animals, plants and humans.

Develop skills
Going to the park or the local playground encourages children to interact with other children. Here they learn social skills and behavioural skills. They may have to negotiate with other children to decide who gets to go on the swing next, or to find a companion for the see saw.

Improve concentration
Spending time outdoors can help improve children's attention span. In fact, playing in a green setting has been shown to reduce the symptoms of ADHD.

A natural source of vitamin D
Vitamin D is important for developing healthy bones and preventing diabetes and heart disease later in life. Vitamin D is gained through sunlight but recent studies have suggested that up to 50% of people worldwide are deficient in vitamin D, and yet sensible sun exposure for just five to ten minutes, two to three times a week is all you need.

It's fun!
When playing outside children feel unrestricted; they don't have to worry about dirtying the house, breaking something, or making a mess. They are also able to run freely and express their creativity.

So, as the weekend is here, why not take your family outside for some play time!