We have four seasons in one day, sure – but getting outside with your kids is still incredibly important for their wellbeing, and has lots of benefits you might not have thought of.
According to recent statistics from the Central Statistics Office (CSO), childhood obesity rates in Ireland have been on the rise. Not only that, but research conducted by the Irish Environmental Protection Agency indicates that outdoor activities can alleviate stress, anxiety, and depression in children.
Encouraging children to partake in outdoor activities might seem like a challenge when you’re packing SPF, sunglasses, raincoats and hats. But these unexpected benefits of outdoor time are worth the prep.
Better immune systems
So it turns out our mams were serious about it being good for us to play in the muck? Regular outdoor exposure introduces children to a wider array of natural microorganisms, potentially strengthening their immune systems and making them more resilient to various illnesses.
Outdoor environments offer diverse textures, scents, and sounds that stimulate sensory development, helping kids hone their sensory processing skills.
Learning about risks
Outdoor play gives more opportunities for children to assess risks, make decisions, and learn about personal boundaries, contributing to the development of their judgment and self-confidence.
Exposure to natural daylight helps regulate children’s circadian rhythms, potentially leading to better sleep patterns and overall sleep quality, which are crucial for their growth and development. Anything so they’ll sleep past 6am, really.
Boosting vitamin D
In Ireland, we’re basically all vitamin D deficient. Adequate exposure to sunlight assists in the absorption of vitamin D, a much-needed nutrient for bone health, immune function, and mood regulation, contributing to overall well-being.
Connecting with nature
A study by the National Trust in Northern Ireland found that regular outdoor exposure instills a sense of responsibility and care for nature. This connection builds valuable environmental awareness, encouraging them to take ownership of, and pride in, their surroundings.