Mother Nature Misses Her Kids: Benefits to Playing Outdoors

Mother Nature CartoonWhile technology has created tremendous benefits to society in general, it has also changed the way kids play today. It seems like children are exercising their fingers more than any other part of their bodies with accessibility to video games, computers, and television remote controls.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have documented a correlation between children’s body fat and how much television they watch.

However, it would not be fair to blame technology for the rise in childhood obesity alone. There are other variables, such as nutritional choices and how children are raised.

In order to reverse the obesity trend, the solution is real simple. Children need to get out and play – at least in the backyard.

According to research, children are smarter, more cooperative, happier and healthier when they have varied opportunities for free, unstructured outdoor play.*

Here are 7 benefits of playing outdoors:

1. Creative, imaginative play. A simple example: It’s much more thrilling for a child to pretend to be an airline pilot under the big blue sky than it is to be inside.

2. Emotional coping and stress reduction. We like to call outdoor play an instant “re-set button.”

3. Improved physical health and motor coordination. Kids that run around nature, are working to develop their entire body. Hopping from boulder to boulder, for example, is true test of balance!


4. Cognitive, social and sensory development. Nature’s elements and specially designed playground equipment offer just the right stimulation for children of all disabilities.

5. Concentration, self-control and self-discipline. The outdoors are full of learning experiences that can be achieved from individual, parallel and group play.

6. Creative problem-solving skills. Kids can be exposed to situations that teach them about basic life skills and challenges, as well as lessons to manage obstacles.

7. Appreciation for the environment. With guidance, children can discover nature and the world around them. Through engagement, they will also learn to respect all things around them.

What are some ways you’re engaging kids to play outside?

* Children and Nature 2008: A report on the movement to reconnect children to the Natural World.

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Marisa Finetti

Social media-driven, passionate about living healthy, and writing about both. Marisa Finetti has been published in a number of magazines on topics of spa and wellness, and has her own blogs on social media and health: Best Be Well,Spa Pixie and Social Media Siren.

6 thoughts on “Mother Nature Misses Her Kids: Benefits to Playing Outdoors

  • March 3, 2013 at 3:09 pm

    Playground equipment definitely plays and important role in child development and we should all support efforts to maintain challenging yet safe playgrounds for our communities. Thanks for the article.

  • April 12, 2012 at 3:53 am

    It is definitely great to read posts like this that allow parents and adults to understand the value of playing. Even in a modern society like ours, there are still ways and venues where children can play and develop themselves in a holistic manner.

  • November 10, 2010 at 6:28 pm

    I grew up in a world before television and I am thankful for that. I played with friends, roamed the neighborhood and constructed my own games when no-one was about.

    It seems to me that children have lost the art of entertaining themselves. So much healthier to spend time outdoors than stuck in front of the TV or computer.

    • November 11, 2010 at 12:13 am

      Dawn, I’m 35 now and I guess that I’m pretty lucky that there weren’t that many channels worth watching when I was growing up. I spent most of my time playing outside with friends or involved in team sports. Today, children have to contend with the Internet, HDTV, and potentially addictive video games.

    • November 11, 2010 at 5:51 pm

      As a child, I spent most of my time outside. Right after homework, all the neighborhood kids would be out. Whether we played kickball, or roller-skated or hunted for frogs (yes, it’s true), outside was the place to be. Now with two active boys of my own, I see how easily they are tempted to play indoors to exercise their fingers. As a family, we inspire them to be healthy through nutrition and outdoor play. Now my entire neighborhood (parents and grandparents included) come out at least four times per week to get the blood pumping and breathe some fresh air. It’s the way it should be.

    • December 9, 2011 at 11:53 am

      As a child, growing up, I have spent much of my time on the computer/playing videogames. It hasn’t been until recently that I realized how much of an effect it’s had on me. I wish I had more commercial playground that was closer by when I was a kid, as I could stand to be more fit…


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