Why Kids Should Play More Outdoors
Children who play outdoors not only get enough vitamin D from sunlight exposure, they also reduce their stress and boost their immunity. Jennifer Shu, M.D., medical editor of Healthyliving.org advises planning outdoor activities together or making outdoor play a part of family traditions.
One of the well-recognized benefits of increasing physical activity is reduction of obesity risk. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends limiting kids’ time spent on computers and TV to two hours daily and getting them outdoors, instead to reduce their odds of becoming overweight or obese. Aside from this, they also benefit from being exposed to sunlight, which increases vitamin D production in their skin and reduces their risk for weak bones and other chronic diseases. The National Institute of Health recommends that to boost vitamin D levels, kids should get 10 to 15 minutes of sunshine a few times a week.
Another benefit, according to research at Cornell University, of having access to nature is that it helps kids cope better with stress, especially if they are having trouble at school. J’Nell Bryson, a landscape architect in Charlotte, North Carolina recommends giving children a small space of their own outside in the yard where they can spend time, or if not, they can take regular walks to a local park. According to the AAP, spending time outdoors with other people improves their social skills while they learn how to share, work in groups, negotiate and resolve conflicts.
Studies at the University of Illinois suggest that children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) have milder symptoms when they play outside regularly, and a twenty-minute walk may help them concentrate better.
Finally, getting a little dirt on their hands can boost children’s immunity, which may have lasting effects that protect against diseases later in life.
SanSone, AE. It Calms ADHD Symptoms, Plus 5 More Reasons to Get the Kids Outside. iVillage.