Nowadays, many parents find themselves juggling several jobs and seem to not have enough time to dedicate to their kids. It’s sometimes easier to place them in front of a screen of some kind and have them play a game or watch a TV show. However, spending time outside is vital for a child’s development. Why exactly is that so and which outdoor activities can kids try? Read on for more info.
Why is outdoor activity important?
It’s a well-known fact that being active is a big part of staying healthy, in addition to a balanced diet and enough sleep. So, what are the benefits of outdoor physical activity that kids can experience?
Physical activity is essential for a child’s growth. Exercising will help your little one have stronger bones and muscles. Moreover, building a good foundation from an early age can reduce the risk of bone-related diseases like osteoporosis. This is all possible thanks to sunlight, which helps us all get enough vitamin D. This vitamin has many important roles in our bodies, including absorption of calcium that leads to strong bones.
Refinement of motor skills
Younger kids will benefit from outdoor activities as well as they also help with the development and refinement of motor skills. These skills are vital for feeding and dressing themselves, among many other things. Playing outdoors often comes with uneven terrain and different surroundings, meaning that they will learn to adapt quickly.
Being in shape
Exercising also helps build strength, flexibility, stability, and stamina. That means that your child will have enough strength to do various tasks throughout the day and be able to walk longer distances.
Something else parents need to keep an eye on during their child’s development is the risk of obesity. To prevent a huge weight gain and help your kid burn calories, encourage them to spend time outdoors doing various activities. This is crucial as obese children are at a higher risk of dealing with obesity as adults.
While a little chubbiness is not a problem, obesity can put kids at risk of cardiovascular diseases like type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol. Being outside in the fresh air and getting enough physical activity can help prevent these kinds of health problems.
Sitting in front of the computer most of the day often leads to slouching. Fortunately, this common problem can be amended by exercise. Various physical activities can improve your kid’s posture by improving their core and spine strength. Good posture is essential for later life as it protects from spine deformations and body aches.
Staring at the screen all day but even just doing some “close work” like reading can lead to nearsightedness. By spending time outside, children get a chance to rest their eyes a bit and benefit from exposure to sunlight as well.
However, getting enough exercise is not only beneficial for the body but for the mind as well. Physical activity plays a role in brain development too. When we’re active, nerve cells are encouraged to multiply and form new connections. This leads to better memory and improved concentration.
The mental health of your child is definitely not something you can afford to overlook. Luckily, exercise can actually help ward off stress, anxiety, and depression. Physical activity can produce feel-good hormones that boost our mood while spending time outside also increases the secretion of serotonin, thanks to vitamin D.
Besides improving mood and mental health, exercise can also make kids more confident. If they start practicing a sport, they can gain more self-esteem as they become better at what they do. Furthermore, maintaining a healthy weight will aid them in creating a healthy self-image.
Taking part in sports will not only boost their confidence but their social skills as well. Team sports teach children how to communicate with their peers, read non-verbal cues, and even adopt leadership roles. Seeing as how spending time in nature can make us less stressed, it’s no wonder that maintaining friendships is easier.
Some studies also associate the quality of sleep with spending time outside. While kids might not sleep longer, they will fall asleep faster as being exposed to sunlight helps with the circadian rhythm that tells us when it’s time to sleep.
Finally, by encouraging kids to explore the great outdoors, they will gain a better appreciation of the planet. They will behave in such a way that will protect the environment. They are less likely to litter and will express support for the conservation of nature and animals.
What activities can kids do outside?
When it comes to the activities that kids can do outdoors, the options, fortunately, abound. However, it’s important to also teach your kids to relax after playing outside.
The simplest of activities, walking is something you can do together. Whether you take your kid on an evening walk, run errands around town, or go somewhere with the purpose of exploration, it doesn’t matter. Your kid will not adopt a sedentary lifestyle but will have some sort of exercise in their life that will improve their balance and reduce body fat. Plus, walking is an activity that doesn’t require any special equipment apart from comfy shoes.
Another activity you can do together is running. Just a run around the block can be enough to fulfill the daily activity needs of your little one. Running is also a great option as it doesn’t require any membership or equipment but only running shoes. This activity can help build strong bones and strengthen muscles while improving their cardiovascular fitness.
For cycling, you will need a bit more gear. For starters, you need to ensure your little one has an appropriate kids’ bike that’s the right size. A helmet and protective pads are also a must. If you’re still teaching them, you can consider training wheels or a balance bike. Make sure you also teach them the rules of traffic before setting off on a journey around town. In case they are older, you can let them go on their own. Cycling comes with benefits such as improved posture, increased flexibility and joint mobility, and even decreased stress. For something a bit more extreme, you can consider mountain biking as a great dad/son bonding activity.
If you live near a beach, great – swimming is an amazing activity that will build your little one’s endurance, tone their muscles, and help them maintain a healthy weight. However, even if you don’t have a beach nearby, go to the local swimming pool. If they’re still learning, buy them floaties that will ensure they are safe. Moreover, don’t overlook kids beach towels and sunscreen with a high SPF.
This is a simple activity that requires only one piece of equipment – a jumping rope. Going outside and skipping rope is something your little one can do on their own whenever they are bored. Just 20 minutes of this activity has incredible health benefits.
An odd activity that can still be done is tree climbing. If you provide your kids with a safe outdoor environment and check all the trees to see that they are solid, letting them climb a tree in your yard shouldn’t be dangerous. Just remember to tell them how high they are allowed to go and you can maybe even show them some tips and tricks.
Another outdoor activity you can do with your children and teach them some valuable lessons is gardening. If you already have a garden where you grow food for your family, introducing them to this hobby shouldn’t be difficult. However, even if you’re a novice, you can learn together. Not only will you be in the sunlight and fresh air, you will also be getting a moderate-intensity workout by dragging containers and soil bags.
Fishing is yet another interesting hobby that you can do together to provide your family with food. Teach your kid the basics or watch some YouTube tutorials together to see the best practices. Fishing is a relaxing activity that can lower stress as well as improve concentration and keep you both fit.
There is a wide range of relaxing and beneficial activities that your child can do. However, they can also go a step further and consider an individual sport to take on. If they want to get competitive, they can consider tennis, golfing, kayaking, surfing, and paddle boarding. These sports all have their benefits but the biggest is surely being outdoors.
On the other hand, team sports might be a bit better for socialization. With that in mind, see if your kid would like to sign up for beach volleyball, football, soccer, lacrosse, baseball, field hockey, or something else.
As you can see, spending time and being active outdoors has many amazing benefits for your kid. While there are so many interesting activities to think about, see how your little one feels about these ten and start there.