Benefits of kids being outdoors

Published: 26th November 2017

With the sun starting to shine and summer break inching closer to becoming a reality, kids are getting excited for some well-deserved time away from school.

Despite how they probably have some grand plans to camp in front of the telly with their favourite Netflix series all summer, its important to encourage your children to stretch their legs and get a good dose of vitamin D.

From team sports to a friendly game of neighbourhood tag, having your kids active outdoors will have a huge benefits to both their physical and mental health.

How physically active should kids be?

According to the Australian Guidelines

0-1 years: should engage in some light physical activity, such as floor play, daily

1-5 years: should be physically active for at least three hours each day, with activities spread across the day

5-18 years: should have at least an hour of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day

Why is it important for young children to be physically active?

Physical activity in early childhood is extremely vital and has proven to have both short and long-term benefits. It is widely known that active children are more likely to continue exercising as adults. Hence, by fostering good exercise habits in your children’s early stages of life, you can ingrain in them the importance of a healthy lifestyle.

What are the benefits of physical activity?

Better physical health

Research has shown that physical activity plays a dominant role in the prevention of obesity amongst children and adolescents. Further, exercising often helps to strengthen bones and muscles, which in turn, will allow children to improve their balance, posture and strength.

Physical activity also cultivates a healthier heart and lungs, and effectively reduces the risk of your children developing hypertension— high blood pressure— during the later stages of their life.

Better cognitive skills

The impact of being physically active largely affects children’s cognitive functioning and plays an integral role in their ability to concentrate and recall events.

Researchers have also found that fitness closely relates to children’s ability to inhibit competing stimuli when performing a task; and this ability can be largely extended to other areas of their life, such as staying focused and persevering to complete an assignment.

Improved self-esteem

When a child is able to see that they are able to push the limits of their body by engaging in simple activities like jumping, swimming or running, they may learn to appreciate what their body can do— rather than focusing solely on how it looks.

By encouraging your child to be physically active at a young age, it can act as a catalyst for reinforcing this positive body confidence message, which can potentially help children to become more resilient to negative body image influences in their later life.

Promotes social skills

Research conducted by the University of Missouri-Kansas’ School of Education showed that outside play aids children in developing social and emotional competencies; strengthening the way young children learn to interact with others. This is because when kids participate in unstructured play, they learn many behavioural skills and social cues through simple activities.

For example, waiting in line to go down the slide or pushing another child on the swing will teach children to support each other and to take turns.

Enhances emotional wellbeing

Healthy body, healthy mind— this saying certainly holds true, as having regular physical activity plays a big role in maintaining a positive mental wellbeing. When exercising, your body naturally releases endorphins and serotonin that help to create a feeling of happiness while improving energy levels.

Exercising can also act as a form of distraction from worries and preoccupations that your child may be facing, and offers a space for more positive thinking.

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