If you really love nature, you will find beauty everywhere
Vincent van Gogh

When you watch a child play outdoors, it is easy to perceive their happiness, their enjoyment, their movement and the feeling of fullness that emanates from their pores.

Human beings are part of nature : our circadian and hormonal system is regulated thanks to the hours of natural light; Our muscles require activity to avoid weakening and atrophy and our mood suffers due to environmental, light or noise pollution, while we appreciate green spaces, manual activities or good company.

That your children spend as much time as possible outdoors is great news: in this way they will receive numerous physical, social, intellectual and emotional benefits . From a stronger immune system and a richer intestinal microbiota to a lower risk of obesity, anxiety or depression, to a better night's rest and better sensory stimulation.

These are some of the most notable benefits of playing outdoors , and they have scientific backing.

7 advantages of children playing outdoors

To play outdoors

  • It is key for their physical development: In the preschool and primary stage, playing outdoors helps them improve physical strength, resistance or immune function, as well as having more possibilities to practice sports in later life stages. They will develop more advanced motor skills than children at home, such as agility, coordination and balance. It also strengthens bones and muscles.
  • Less likely to suffer from diseases : Children who play outdoors avoid a sedentary lifestyle, burn more calories and are less likely to suffer from obesity . A study suggests that there is a direct correlation between a child's BMI and the time they spend doing outdoor activities. Thus, playing outdoors can prevent problems such as asthma, sleep apnea, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. It also improves the immune system and increases microbial diversity, as this Finnish experiment published in Science Advances found out.
  • Enough Vitamin D : Outdoor play can also help children get adequate amounts of vitamin D, also known as the "sunshine vitamin," essential for strong, healthy bones and teeth. Babies under 12 months need 400 IU of vitamin D per day. Young children, older children and adolescents need 600 IU of vitamin D daily.
  • Better social development: Playing outside offers a great opportunity to socialize and work on empathy, cooperation and friendship. Outdoor spaces reduce the chances of bullying or excessive competition, making the little ones more likely to communicate and share their feelings. Having fun in nature teaches them to be more self-aware, care for the environment as adults, and love nature.
  • More equality, respect and creativity : Children who play outdoors regularly tend to be more aware of themselves and the feelings of others, and are less likely to become bullies later. Playing outdoors also helps them develop teamwork, imagination, cooperation and listening.
  • Use of the five senses: Playing outdoors encompasses complete sensory stimulation, while watching a television or tablet only requires sight and hearing. Being outside allows you to better process and respond to sensory stimuli, flirt with a wider range of sensations, and develop a greater sense of freedom, experimentation, and independence. Instead of instant gratification, they develop resilience and also learn to know what their internal motivations are.
  • Contributes to brain development : Playing without structure outdoors contributes to problem solving, working on lateral, logical and abstract thinking, acquiring interpersonal skills, having access to other learning materials and exploring new interests, such as all those related to animals, plants and nature.

Ideal outdoor games for children

free movement

There is a wide range of outdoor games - in addition to free format, giving free rein to their creativity - that children can play outside. This is a small list that can serve as a guide.
  • Dig
  • jump rope
  • Run and race
  • Climb trees
  • Dance
  • Play hide
  • play rubber
  • Play team sports such as hockey, soccer, basketball, badminton or volleyball
  • Rascal
  • Bicycling
  • Skate
  • Enjoy the swings
  • Hiking
  • Play with kites
  • Zip line
  • dodgeball
  • Treasure hunt
  • Sack-race
  • Little blind hen
  • English hideout
  • One leg race
  • Soap bubbles
  • kitchenettes
  • Gymkhana circuit
  • Pallas
  • Bowling
  • Identification of animal and plant species
These are just a few examples of outdoor games, but there are many more: from practicing ludo or chess on a full scale to jumping competitions, traditional games such as petanque or duro, theater and outdoor body expression, races. of leaves by river, sculptural composition with sand and much more. As Gary Snyder said, "Nature is not a place to visit. It's home."


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