I travel around my local area for numerous reasons. Every time I drive by the local community park, I never see any children outside playing. In my opinion, an empty park is just sad. The playground equipment is up to date. I just cannot understand why more children are not spending more time outdoors. I guess, I am finally showing my lack of understanding in the different generations. Otherwards, my middle age is finally showing.
Obviously, I am a huge advocate for spending time outdoors at any age. Being outdoors is one of the biggest memories of my childhood. I believe, we should advocate for playing and exploring outdoors. Playing at the local park or hiking in nature has numerous benefits for children (and adults).
Being outdoors can actually improve creativity. Exploring and learning about the natural world creates a sense of wonder. As I begin to write, I realize a lot of my stories have traces of my childhood imagination.
Children who play outdoors with their peers develop social skills. The simple act of playing allows children to communicate with others on the playground or nature trail. Children learn to develop leadership skills through random socialization. Active interaction can turn into a game, promoting social and behavioral skills in children.
Even though my siblings are a lot younger than me, there were always extra children around. The neighbor kids and my cousins were always around especially during the summer months. We would spend a lot of time playing. During the times of play, we (reluctantly at times) learned the value of sharing, communicating and taking turns.
Provides a Way to Reduce Stress
Like adults, children can experience stress. Spending time outdoors can help in reducing stress levels. After sitting in a classroom all day, I use to love coming home and being outdoors. Being outside an hour before dinner, homework and nightly routine provided enough time to just relax.
Promotes Healthy Traits
Being outdoors increases vitamin D intake. Various types of research prove the natural intake of vitamin D can help prevent bone disease and diabetes. The simple act of going outdoors increases movement.
When I ask my mother why she would send us outdoors all the time, she replies, “to make you sleep better.” Releasing all the pent up energy from being in a classroom does help improve focus and regulate sleep patterns.
My advice is spend as much time as possible outdoors. I understand work and commitment schedules can be tight at times. But I truly feel the benefits of spending at least 20 minutes a day outdoors is worth the hassle. Children can play and learn. Adults can unwind and enjoy the time with family.