Outdoor activities are not only enjoyable, they also have many benefits for all age groups. Undertaking outdoor recreation is a proven way to improve your physical and mental health and promotes social interaction – for both adults and children alike. It’s also a great way for children to learn new skills and develop coordination. Discover more about the benefits of playing outside as Bloom discusses this topic in more depth.
The benefits of outdoor activities for children
Some of the benefits of outdoor play include the following:
- Intellectual. That’s right – children don’t just learn inside a classroom with an organised learning activity. Unstructured outdoor play aids brain development as children learn problem-solving and decision-making skills. They also develop their imagination through individual and cooperative play. Outdoor activities are a good place for children to practice and improve their interpersonal skills and form relationships without parental supervision. Many children will grow independent and develop personal interests in new topics and activities. Some children may enjoy complicated activities in the jungle gym, for instance, while others may prefer a robust bike ride.
- Emotional. Along with the intellectual benefits of outdoor play, are the emotional benefits, where children are afforded the opportunity to use all their senses, unlike screentime which only allows for vision and auditory interaction. Outdoor play allows children to experiment with the full range of sensory experiences. It also promotes independence and self-confidence as they explore new settings and discover their own improved capabilities.
Outdoor play is an important way for children to learn self-reflection. This skill is the way in which we learn how to cope with life’s stressors. Unstructured outdoor play involves decisions, which lead to successes and failures. Once children can look back on these, they will soon determine what sort of behaviour is favourable and what they would rather avoid. It’s also a good way for children to learn how to control their emotions. Sometimes it’s advantageous to push the limits of our comfort zone and experience difficulty. Many types of outdoor activities teach children new lessons by asking them to take risks. The positive outcome helps build resilience and allows them a means of coping with their fears.
- Physical. A child’s physical development is dependent on time spent playing outside, especially during their nursery school and primary school years. By playing outside, a child develops motor skills, agility, balance and coordination. This is because they can exercise their bodies’ muscles and bones by testing their own personal endurance. It’s highly recommended that children are encouraged to participate in organised sports activities – like cricket, soccer, swimming or tennis. Another good reason to highlight the importance of outdoor play is that it’s a proven way to prevent childhood obesity. The Health Sciences Research Council recently undertook a National Health Nutrition Survey, which found that a shocking number of South African children between the ages of 2 to 14 years were either overweight or obese. Children who are able to burn off calories, generally have a healthy body mass index compared to their counterparts who spend most of their time indoors indulging in extended screentime. Discover more about the Reasons why a healthy eating plan is so good for children.
The benefits of outdoor activities for adults
Why is playing outside good for your health if you’re an adult? The great outdoors isn’t just for children. Experts agree that there are several advantages to enjoying outdoor activities, some of which include the following:
- Physical benefits of outdoor activities. Lower your risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, arthritis and osteoporosis with some outdoor time. It’s recommended that adults commit to doing 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week. This can help burn off the calories and unwanted fat, which will help you maintain your ideal body weight. Try going on a brisk walk or riding a bicycle. In addition, 5-15 minutes per day is all the time you need to get your daily dose of vitamin D. This is important because vitamin D will boost your immune system.
- Social benefits of outdoor activities. People are social by nature and getting out and about is a great way to meet some like-minded people and start new hobbies. It’s also a great way to build community spirit and learn new skills, like auditory awareness, and physical movement. Do some research to find out what appeals to you, like a hiking or running club or birdwatching.
- Emotional and mental health benefits of outdoor activities. Undertaking outdoor activities is a great way to improve your overall well-being. This is because physical exercise relieves tension and stress by releasing endorphins. It also relieves tension and stress, boosts physical and mental energy, and enhances well-being through the release of endorphins. Some studies have found that outdoor activities can help reduce the levels of cortisol, known as the stress hormone, in one’s body. Commit to 20 minutes of outdoor activities each day to reduce stress, anxiety or depression.
Build healthier minds and bodies with outdoor activities
Why is playing outside good for your health? The benefits are clear. Outdoor play for children and outdoor activities for adults improve our physical health, mental well-being and intellect. Bloom encourages healthy living, which means making time to enjoy the outdoors and reap the benefits. What’s more, get health insurance cover for you and your family to ensure your good health should you ever require medical services. Contact our office to discuss your health insurance options with a trained consultant.
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