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Top 5 Benefits Of Taking Play Outdoors

Updated: Jun 1, 2023

And they're not just physical.

Image by Claudia Dumond

The sun is out and warming our cheeks, the leaves are rustling beneath our feet and the hunt is on.

Who is going to find the biggest stick first?

Who can crack the most acorn shells?

Who can find the best branch to swing on?

And so it goes on.

My boys are like savage wolves just released back into the wild whenever we head down to the park. They cannot run fast enough, climb high enough, scoot far enough. There’s just something about being outdoors that is just so much fun for everyone. And as much as we all know that getting outdoors with the kids is important, here are my, research backed, top 5 benefits of taking play outdoors:


It’s a fact, our children are spending half as much time playing outside as we did! I can believe it even though I don’t like knowing it. In fact, the National Trust surveyed parents and found that 9 out of 10 parents would prefer offspring to spend their childhood connecting with nature - so it’s clearly something that needs addressing. Playing outdoors allows children not just to gain knowledge and appreciation for nature which they will take with them into adulthood, but it also boosts creativity, really allowing kids to do what they do best, play. in an unstructured way.

Children who spend more time in less-structured activities display better self-directed control.


No walls, no limits, and lots of challenges which can help children push their boundaries combined with slightly less adult supervision gives children a sense of freedom which helps them learn important life skills; independence, resilience, self confidence, a sense of self and what they love doing most. There are so many things for kids to see, explore and learn in the open space. Not to mention the changing environment throughout the year, it never stops stimulating and inspiring.


“I’ve made a new friend” my boys shout happily. And this isn’t uncommon. Being outdoors with no organised “play date” or rules to abide by encourages children to come out of their shell more and means they’re more open to making impromptu friendships and creating old school games that anyone can get involved in. This helps children to learn social skills and how to interact with other children.


And this includes sleep… now which parent wouldn’t want that? Research shows that babies sleep better at night if they’ve had some fresh air and sunshine during the day. The added physical activity associated with outdoor play helps children to build strong bones and good fitness levels, while also enabling them to burn off extra energy and calories. In addition, being outdoors, even in the winter, means children naturally get vitamin D from sunshine which is proven to create a positive mental attitude. And giving children the freedom of playing outdoor helps them to feel happier and calmer and live an all round healthy lifestyle.

And finally, of course,


As they use their muscles actively and breathe deeply while playing, they bring added oxygen to their muscles. Through climbing children begin to develop their fine motor skills including grip and grasp; skills which are directly transferable to the classroom when learning handwriting because children will find it easier to hold a pencil correctly. Climbing also allows children to build their gross motor skills including balance and coordination, leading to a healthier and active lifestyle.

“With healthy lifestyle, we can avoid 60-70% of known illnesses.”- Samir Becic

Now I know how to make a good excuse in order to not have to go outside in the cold but these stats are real and compelling. So let's make a pledge that whatever the weather we will do our very best to get the kids playing outdoors at least once a day. As they say in Norway, "THERE'S NO SUCH THING AS BAD WEATHER, ONLY BAD CLOTHES”! ;)

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