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Children's health

24th May 2024

The importance of outdoor play as natural form of exercise

Sophie Collins

Outdoors, exercise

Playing outside is crucial for children’s development 

It enhances their strength, coordination, and cognitive abilities while fostering a healthy curiosity about the natural world. 

Despite these benefits, a study by the World Health Organisation reveals that 80% of adolescents are not sufficiently active. 

With obesity being a significant global health concern, outdoor play provides a natural way for children to exercise.

A New Generation of iPad Kids

James Dooley from Soft Surfaces highlights the growing issue of children spending excessive time on devices. 

He says: “Whether we like it or not, technology surrounds us. Even at school, children use computers, iPads, or tablets daily. 

“They are becoming increasingly accustomed to staring at screens while sitting indoors, raising concerns among many parents regarding the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle. 

“It can be difficult to separate children from these devices, which they have become so accustomed to from such a young age.”

James’ Tips for Playful Outdoor Adventures

Family Bonding Time

Highlight outdoor activities as special family moments when parents are fully present. 

A picnic in the local park or a fun camping trip can be memorable experiences. James suggests: 

“Even something as simple as stargazing in the back garden not only gets kids outside but also builds core memories in their childhood that they’ll never forget.”

Play Pretend

Children are naturally curious and imaginative. 

Create outdoor games that captivate their imagination, such as a scavenger hunt with a homemade map or a game of flashlight tag. 

Encourage them to use natural materials like grass and rocks to concoct a witches’ brew or other imaginative creations.

Have Outdoor Toys

Equip your children with toys that are specifically for outdoor use. 

“Whether it’s something as simple as a football or sandbox to something as elaborate as an outdoor playground,” James explains, “your kids will realise that they’ll probably have more fun flying through the air on a swinging rope or biking through the neighborhood park than tapping away on their iPad.”

Splash Zone!

Water play is a favorite among children. 

Once the weather warms up, let them enjoy running through sprinklers, playing with water guns, or tossing water balloons. 

Even on rainy days, encourage them to wear rain gear and jump in puddles.

Join a Playgroup

Playgroups are excellent for getting kids outside and socialising with peers. They also provide an opportunity for parents to connect. 

James advises, “You could meet up at a nearby park, playground, or nature reserve to allow both you and your children a chance to enjoy a pleasant afternoon outdoors.”

In today’s technology-driven world, where children are increasingly tethered to devices, providing opportunities for outdoor exploration and imaginative play is essential. 

By reframing outdoor experiences as family bonding time and creating engaging activities that spark children’s curiosity, parents can instill a love for nature and create lasting memories. 

James concludes, “Parents can nurture their children’s physical, emotional, and social well-being by prioritising outdoor play, ensuring a brighter and healthier future for generations to come.