When the seasons change to fall and winter, it’s easy to while away a day indoors, snuggling under blankets and hiding from cold or rainy or snowy weather. But many studies show that getting outdoors, even just for an extra 30 minutes each day, is super beneficial for kids and grownups alike. Here are 5 reasons why you might want to put the blanket away, throw on your jacket, and get your entire family outside.
1. It promotes creativity and imagination. Unstructured play outdoors allows kids to interact with their surroundings. It encourages freethinking, especially when kids get to design their own games or activities, and come up with fun ways to play. Encourage your kiddos to explore when outdoors. Take them on a walk in a park, look for bugs and creatures, and pretend to be explorers, aliens, or a family of bears.
2. It increases problem-solving skills. Allowing kids to explore outdoors gives them ample opportunity to stretch their problem-solving skills in ways that just don’t happen when indoors. Let them figure out how to cross a stream without getting wet, the best way to build a fort, or the fastest route to take to get to their favourite playground.
3. It can lower stress levels. A 2014 study shows that increasing kid’s exposure to green outdoor spaces can help decrease their stress levels by offering them an escape from life’s daily routine. Kids who play outside found peace away from stresses in the classroom and their life. Kids who played in green spaces were also shown to increase focus, build competence, and form supportive social groups — all great things!
4. It improves vision. Time spent outdoors significantly reduces the risk of developing myopia, or nearsightedness, and can slow its progression. A study by the American Academy of Ophthalmology found that a kid’s chances of developing myopia dropped by 2% for each additional hour spent outdoors per week. This goes for adolescents too as the study included kids and teens up to 20 years old.
5. It improves sleep. So many kids suffer from sleep deprivation, which can cause some serious deficits their development. According to the National Wildlife Federation, one way to counteract it is to spend an hour outdoors every single day. Natural light helps kids regulate their internal sleep clock. It soothes kids who are feeling stressed out, allowing them to relax. Plus, outdoor exercise has been proven to be more effective than indoor exercising, releasing more soothing endorphins leading to a better nights sleep. If you find your kiddos are struggling to get or stay asleep at night, try swapping their evening screen time for a walk or play at the playground.
To make sure everyone is happy outdoors, all it takes is a bit of planning and the right gear. Make sure you dress in layers, wear a good waterproof jacket and boots, and plan a fun reward for when you come back inside, like hot chocolate — it can help get even the most reluctant kid out the door.
Look for more great things to do outdoors? We’ve got you covered:
- The ultimate guide to Halloween activities in Metro Vancouver
- 10 ideas for outdoor rainy day fun
- 50 free and low-cost fall activities in Metro Vancouver
By: Michelle Hughes