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7 Benefits of Outdoor Play for Kids

Published on: 02/02/23

We all know how important it is for kids to unplug and get some fresh air, but sometimes it can be hard to make that happen.

Children benefit hugely from spending time outdoors, and being encouraged to explore the natural world around them.  

For Children’s Mental Health Week 2023, Place2Be are encouraging meaningful connections and interactions through this year's theme of 'Lets Connect'. 

Time spent in nature is an amazing way to connect with the world around you, with friends and loved ones.

So, here are 7 benefits of outdoor play for children to help get your little ones to reconnect and thrive in the great outdoors.

girl in yellow coat on Go Ape crossing

1. Enhanced Cognitive Skills

Did you know that being outdoors helps children learn better? It’s true! Studies have found that exposure to green spaces enhances cognitive development by improving concentration levels and problem-solving skills—two essential components in learning success. Plus, taking part in tactile activities like digging in dirt or exploring nature encourages creativity and imagination. That can only be a good thing!

2.  Improved Physical Health

One of the most obvious advantages of outdoor playtime is physical health. Running around in the great outdoors helps kids build strength, balance, coordination and agility—all essential components of physical fitness. For example, riding bikes or playing tag helps improve cardiovascular health while engaging in activities such as climbing improves muscle strength and coordination. Whatever activity they choose, make sure they’re having fun while keeping their body active.

girl in grey hodie at the bottom of green slide at Go Ape Black PArk

3. Boosts Mood

Not only does regular outdoor play improve physical health and cognitive development; it also boosts mood by helping reduce stress levels and anxiety. Being outside can actually increase serotonin levels in the brain (a chemical known to produce happiness). So if your kid has had a bad day at school or is feeling cranky after hours stuck indoors doing homework, suggest going outside for some sunshine-filled playtime instead.

4. Improved Social Interaction

Outdoor play gives children a chance to interact with other children in an open environment where they can practice important social skills like negotiation, cooperation, problem solving, communication and teamwork without feeling pressured or judged by adults or peers. This kind of unstructured playtime is essential for developing emotional intelligence—a crucial skill for success later in life.

two girls smiling on Go Ape Treetop Adventure Plus

5. Independence & Imagination

Time spent playing alone or with friends outside gives children more freedom than they would have indoors; this helps build self-confidence as well as foster independence by giving them more control over their own activities. When kids are allowed to explore their natural surroundings with minimal restrictions, they can let their imaginations run wild. Playing outdoors gives them the opportunity to explore new things in creative ways that stimulate their minds and help them think outside the box—which will be beneficial when it comes time for schoolwork (or adult work) later on down the line.

6 . Connections with Nature

Learning about nature is an essential part of childhood development. By exploring the outdoors, children can gain an appreciation for plants and animals, develop a deeper understanding of our planet, and learn how their actions can affect the environment around them. 

7. Better Sleep

Believe it or not , spending time outdoors during daylight hours helps regulate sleep patterns —which means restful nights guaranteed! Exposure to natural light signals to our bodies when it’s time to wake up (hello morning energy) AND when its time to sleep (goodbye bedtime battles).

There are countless benefits associated with sending your child out into nature—from reducing stress levels and improving physical fitness to fostering creativity and independence—so make sure you set aside some time each week for outdoor play! It might just be what your kiddo needs in order to grow into an even brighter version of themselves.

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