16 March 2020 at 16:13
The Great Outdoors - 7 reasons why kids should play outside
In a survey of 20,000 parents it was revealed that 74% of children spend more time indoors than prisoners.
The survey, conducted by Unilever, also found that a fifth of children didn’t play outdoors at all on a typical day, and only 10% of children had access to outdoor learning. The current UN guideline for prisoners is 1 hour outdoors each day for exercise, but the vast majority of children did not meet this threshold even before the Covid 19 lockdowns.
So now that restrictions on time spent outdoors are being eased in the UK, what are the benefits of getting the kids out more?
1. General fitness
Playing outdoors in parks and fields means plenty of space to run and move for longer periods, helping to increase lung capacity and general fitness
2. Improved co-ordination
While we might want to supervise woodland play, balancing along fallen logs and clambering over branches helps develop balance and co-ordination which is difficult to re-create with indoor play
3. Better eyesight
Using a screen requires a limited range of eye movements, whereas being outside can improve vision because of the greater variance in distance between near and far objects. A study published by Optometry and Vision Science confirmed this, showing that children who play outside have better long distance vision.
4. Stronger bones
Vitamin D is essential for a healthy skeleton as it is required for calcium absorption. It is manufactured in the body by the action of sunlight on the skin, even on a cloudy day, so being indoors all day can result in deficiency.
5. Benefits of soil
Coming into contact with the microbes that are naturally present in soil not only helps develop the immune system, but may also stimulate serotonin production, a hormone that improves mood
6. Social awareness
Being out of the house improves social awareness and even if a child is playing alone they will be developing awareness of a public area - observing dog walkers, runners, and behaviour of other families within the surroundings. This is an important skill to develop, to help children maintain social distancing.
7. Better sleep
Being in the open air under natural daylight helps to reduce stress and regulate the body clock for a better night’s sleep, whereas spending the majority of time indoors under artificial light can have the opposite effect.
Remember to continue to follow the current social distancing guidelines for your region during all outdoor time, and take care not to overcrowd popular areas, to protect yourself and others