Skip to main content

5 ways playing outside benefits kids

There is nothing quite like hearing the sounds of your kids giggling and laughing while they are playing outdoors. There is just something about being outside that just makes everything more fun. However, these days, many kids are hooked on screens and computers. While that is okay in moderation, it’s something that parents should keep in check. That’s why it’s so important to encourage kids to play outside. Besides getting them up and moving, there are five benefits of kids playing outside that you’ll be pleased to hear about.

Why playing outside benefits kids

It enhances their development

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, there are cognitive, social, and stress management skills to be learned and acquired by playing outdoors, and it emphasizes the important power of play in a child’s life. Co-director at the University of Maryland’s Center for School Mental Health, Sharon Hoover says, “Play can promote positive feelings like joy and excitement, which can bolster mood and diminish anxiety and sadness.” The kids can be outside soaking up the beautiful sun rays and they can let their cares be free. Even though it only may be temporary, outside is an incredible place that you should encourage your children to explore.

Silly Kids
Image used with permission by copyright holder

It’s physically good for them

Not only do we know that exercise is good for children, but there are other physical benefits that your children will get when they head out the back door to go play with their friends. When they are playing outside, they can reap the beautiful benefits of vitamin D, which they’ll get from being out in the sun. Not to mention when kids play outside more than they do inside, they are more tired out by day’s end, so naturally, it helps them sleep better and longer. Finally, it can increase their attention span. Danae Lund PhD, LP of Sanford Health, who works with child and adolescent behavioral health said, “Children who play outdoors regularly are more curious, self-directed, and likely to stay with a task longer. Children who spend most of their time indoors with little exposure to activities requiring their own initiation and follow-through show less ability to initiate or participate in new activities.”

It provides social skills

Children who play outside more often tend to begin to build their self-awareness about others around them. This is how they form their first peer-to-peer relationships. Little ones who play outside begin to have positive interactions with other children, and that is how their friends are made. A great way to see this flourish is to watch them play a game that allows them to pretend together. When the children are outside, they will love the openness of it all, and lifelong friendships could be made.

It teaches them to appreciate nature

There was a study done by the University of British Columbia, which found that children not only begin to have a respect and love for nature when they are young, but most of them carry that love of nature right into their adult years. Eighty-seven percent of participants of the study had said that they carried around their love for nature into their adult lives. Eighty-four percent of them said that they still believed that nature was an important priority to them. That alone shows that being outdoors is good for both children and adults.

Little Girls Laughing
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Kids can be kids

When children are outside, they are allowed to do the things that they typically cannot do inside. Things like running, jumping up and down, yelling, and more can be done outside. Because they can do these things that they can’t do in the house, they are excited to test their own independence and see what they can do at the park or the playground. Kids are able to have fun and be able to do everything that they have wanted to do, but had to wait until they were outside.

The evidence is undeniable. There are so many benefits to children playing outside. It is amazing what mother nature can do. You can model great behavior for your children as well by taking them outdoors to play instead of staying cooped up in the house. To take things one step further you could even institute an annual family camping trip where everyone sleeps under the stars. There are so many wonderful activities that can create wonderful outdoor memories for you and your entire family. Find your reason to go outside and have fun.

Editors' Recommendations

Jennifer Passmore
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Jennifer has written two books on how to deal with living with chronic illness using the power of positivity. She has written…
Indulge in nostalgia: 23 90s kids’ movies your own kids will love
Can't-miss 90s films to watch with your kids
Popcorn with sunglasses and movie tickets

Whether you plan a weekly movie night with the fam or do it monthly, it can be difficult to find an appropriate movie that appeals to everyone. Even with all the streaming services, finding a family-friendly movie can be daunting, especially if you have multiple ages sitting on the couch.

Thankfully, the 90s delivered an array of fun, quality movies that kids and teens will enjoy. It's also a fun way to revisit your childhood while sharing the flicks you used to love. So, if you're looking for 90s kids' movies to watch with your family, put these on the list.
Must-watch 90s kids' movies

Read more
How to play hopscotch (plus 5 great variations)
Classic hopscotch and different ways to play
Brightly colored hopscotch court in a schoolyard

If it seems like hopscotch has been around for ages, it has. The classic game actually originated in Ancient Britain. A hopscotch board was used by Roman soldiers as a training exercise. Eventually, kids picked up on it, added some rules, and hopscotch was born. Today, hopscotch is still played on playgrounds, in schoolyards, and at home all over the globe.

The amazing thing about hopscotch is that it's a perfect pick for kids of all ages, not to mention adults; just try walking past a hopscotch court without hopping through it. There are also cool variations of hopscotch kids can try, too, as well as creating their own version. Don't worry if you've forgotten how to play hopscotch. We've got everything you need to know about hopscotch and more.
How to play hopscotch

Read more
Heads up, 7 up: What’s the game and how to play it
Learn the ins and outs of this classic kids' game
Five kids each giving a thumb-up

Seven up is another classic kids' game that has definitely stood the test of time. This game has been played in countless classrooms throughout the U.S. since the 1950s. No one is actually sure who invented this popular game, but most people have played at some point. Seven up is also known by other names like heads up, heads down, thumbs down or thumbs up. Its name variations point toward the basic aspects of the hands-on game.

A majority of elementary school teacher has led several rounds of 7 up during their teaching careers. New teachers may want to add it to their menu of classroom games because it's a perfect pick to fill time when waiting for a specialty teacher or transitioning to another subject.

Read more