The Importance Of Playing Outdoors

Recent research has shown that children who play outdoors tend to grow up stronger and healthier than children who don't.

I don't know about you but a majority of my fondest memories as a child are of me and my friends playing outside whatever the weather.

In the summer, we played rounders and skipped until our feet fell off. We made shelters on the wetter days using anything we could find to keep the rain away. We adored being outdoors and showery weather was never going to stop us. 

However, nowadays, with the first sight of dull clouds, some parents are pulling the kids into hibernation. But the thing is, kids who play outdoors in the muck and mud grow up healthier.

This article is part of our #FamilyFun30 Challenge, where every day we set a simple, accessible and fun task to enjoy with your family. Check out the full list of challenges here and get involved!

So why do we do it?

Sometimes parents can be a bit too concerned about hygiene and safety and may prefer to have their children play within the home at all times. 

Sounds pretty boring to me, don't you think? Kids need the freedom to explore, to use their imagination and to be able to just PLAY!

A recent study commissioned by the National Trust in the UK found that children spent half the time playing outside than their parents once did. It also showed children played outside for an average of four hours a week compared to eight hours almost twenty years ago. 

Boy climbing a tree
Outdoor play boasts numerous benefits for kids of all ages.

Game Of Thrones star, Raleigh Ritchie, who plays Grey Worm in the hit show, teamed up with the National Trust as part of the campaign. Wanting to encourage children to use their imagination and see the world for more than what it is, he said: "For some people, a stick is just a stick. However, I want to encourage young people to see that actually, the possibilities are endless. It can be a pen, a sword, a witch’s broom, a dragon’s bone ... anything."

What does the research say?

Over the years, research has proven time and time again that children need to be in touch with microorganisms found in soil and grass to allow their immune systems to develop properly while helping the body protect and defend against disease and allergies. By minimizing outdoor play, we are depriving our children of just that.

Dirt contains microscopic bacteria called Mycobacterium vaccae which stimulates the immune system and increases the levels of serotonin in our brains, an endorphin that helps relax, calm and soothe us. So with regular exposure to the bacteria, it can make you happier. 

And if that wasn't enough, outdoor play boasts numerous benefits for kids of all ages. It allows them to explore their surroundings, develop muscle strength and coordination and most importantly, self-confidence.

So next time your kid gets the urge to jump in the muddy puddle, climb a tree, hunt for bugs or run riot in the rain, let them. It's good for their mind, body and soul and you will probably get a couple of hours of peace while they're at it.

Kellie Kearney

Kellie Kearney is a Dublin mammy of five kids aged newborn right up to nine. She loves coffee, cloth nappies, travel and sharing her every day true to life family moments on Instagram.

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