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July 24, 2024

Where Every Family Matters

Playing Outside is Healthy for Kids

Your mom used to make you go outside to play. It's time to insist upon it yourself!

Want to see your child less mopey and more energized? Send himΒ outside to play β€” preferably with friends.Β The marked increase spent indoors on electronic devices has perilizedΒ the healthier attributes found in the great outdoors, anΒ a Harvard pediatrician says it’s important to counter that with fresh air and sunshine. Here are six healthy reasons why kids need more time outside, according to Claire McCarthy, M.D.

Our bodies need sun. We need sun exposure to make vitamin D, which is crucial to our immune system. Sun exposure play a role in our immune system as well as in healthy sleep and in our mood.

Kids should be active every day. Sending them outside to play β€” with a ball, a bike, or on a trampoline β€” encourages active play which is the best exercise for children.

Kids need unstructured time so they can use their imagination to problem-solve and entertain themselves. They need time to figure things out with other children, too. Being outside gives them opportunities to practice these things.

Yes, you can break an arm from climbing trees and yes, you can get humiliated when you try to make a friend but get rejected, but kids can’t live in bubbles. Kids need to learn to TRY things in order to find success. And the lessons we learn from failure are just as important as the ones we learn from success.

Kids need to work together. They need to learn to make friends and learn how to treat other people. If they only interact in structured settings they won’t β€” they can’t β€” learn everything they need to know. When you have the opportunity to send your child outside to play with others, encourage it.

If a child grows up never walking in the woods, digging in the soil, exploring during a mountain hike or playing in a stream, they may never know the richness of the world.

TRY. Do what your parents did and send your children outside. Even better, plan on going outside with them!

About the Author

Susan Swindell Day, Editor

Susan Swindell Day is the editor in chief of Nashville Parent and the mom of four amazing kids.