In Japanese, there’s a word for the health benefits of spending time in the woods: “shinrinyoku,” which literally means “forest bathing.”
Why is this relevant? With the rising concerns over ‘stranger danger,’ parents are afraid of sending out their children to play in public. When studies show that outdoor play is integral to the development and health of your kid, are we depriving our children of the active upbringing that former generations enjoyed?
Recommended Daily Outdoor Play
With child obesity levels at all-time highs, it’s more important now than ever to get our kids out for the recommended daily exercise they need. Under-fives should be spending more than three hours in active play every day, whereas over-fives should be getting at least seven hours of organised exercise a week.
Not A Treat
Play England – an organisation that pioneers outdoor playing areas for children – believes that children should be actively outside for a large chunk of the day. But according to research, parents believe taking their kids out to the park is a treat, rather than an everyday necessity.
Although the evidence for the importance of outdoor play is increasing, parents still can’t shake the idea that if they let their children out of sight, they’ll be harmed.
However, there are also concerns about increased traffic on the roads, a reduction of open, green spaces, long parental working hours, and crime. When you could keep your kid safely at home, why wouldn’t you protect them from potential dangers outside?
The Benefits Of Outdoor Play
With the far-reaching web of the internet, it seems more likely that your child will be exposed to bullying, abuse, inappropriate images, paedophilia, and grooming online than in your local park.
Studies show that children who thoroughly play outdoors and get the right amount of exercise every day do better at school and their concentration levels increase. During your child’s formative years, exposure to nature provides vital stimulation for physical development and cognitive function.
Green spaces are also shown to reduce stress levels after negative experiences, so if your kid has had a bad day at school, take them outside for a game of badminton. Make things a bit more exciting at the weekends by taking them out to a safari park in Manchester, such as Knowsley, as zoos are both active areas and informative too!
Research into the effect outdoor play on the development of children shows: kids who are allowed to run riot in green areas laugh more. Laughter is a great force for good in children. It has been proven to boost the immune system and fight off all the nasty bugs kids are susceptible to.
If your child has attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or attention-deficit disorder (ADD), symptoms are reduced after your kid has been playing in natural areas.
Children who play outside are more likely to be open to new things, than if they’ve grown up in front of a TV screen. Kids have wonderful imaginations and being outdoors enhances this creative side of their personality. It also forges closer ties to nature; crucial for a world where environmental issues will affect them and their children adversely.
Risks of diabetes and obesity are significantly lowered by kids who play outside. Running and jumping play key roles in strengthening bones and muscles. So go outside with your children and get yourself some exercise too!
This guest post has been composed and contributed in collaboration with Knowsley Safari Park. Discover this memorable day out experience in the North West of England!