With outdoor exercise in public places currently restricted, making the most of time spent outdoors is even more important for your child’s development than ever. From helping them explore their surroundings to learning about nature, gaining confidence and improving social skills – playing games in the garden and going on a daily walk can benefit your child in more ways than just having fun!
If children don’t have the desire to go out, play and be active, there’s ways you can encourage them outdoors. Come up with a plan and most importantly, stick to it. Here are just some of the benefits of outdoor play as well as some ideas for you to get the kids to try:
Health benefits of being outdoors
The NHS recommends children aged 5-18 should get at least 1 hour of exercise a day. The best way to spend this time is with a variety of different activities that will keep them fit. This could include throwing, catching, pulling, pushing, lifting or jumping. Playing outdoors is a great way to encourage children’s creativity, and did you know fresh air also reduces stress levels? The great outdoors is a delight for the senses too. A daily walk or an hour spent in the garden allows them to hear the birds singing, smell the flowers, see new insects, touch the bumpy leaves and taste the newly ripened, home-grown tomatoes. Kids’ imaginations are often stimulated by things around them so being outdoors provides new and exciting surroundings to tap into their creativity. And if the sun’s shining, your little one gets the added bonus of a dose of Vitamin D too!
Benefits of exercise for children
Importance of exercise for children’s growth and development
We’ve explored the many ways in which the great outdoors is good for you little one’s health, so what can you do once they’re outside? By making the activities fun, your children won’t even realise they’re exercising! We’ve come up with a whole host of ideas we think they’ll love:
- Have a go at hopscotch – any size patio will do…dig out some chalk and draw out the classic hopscotch game!
- Make your own bowling or tin can alley – keep 10 empty tin cans (tinned tomatoes, baked beans etc.). We’ve had fun decorating ours but you don’t have to. Arrange them in a triangle on the grass or stack them up and, using a bean bag, small football or tennis ball, take it in turns to see how many tins you can knock over at once.
- Go on a scavenger hunt – on your daily walk, collect a handful of leaves of different colours, shapes and sizes. When you get home, paint and press them onto plain paper to create cool leaf prints. Sticks and other leaves can be glued on too. We’re not talking Picasso here, but knowing that they can create art from foraged items is a great thing for kids; it expands their creativity and opens them up to new possibilities.
- Organise a stay-at-home sports day – have a relay race with a partner from one end of the garden to the other, try the classic egg and spoon race, or turn the kids into a ‘wheelbarrow’ and get the adults to race them!
- Fence battleships – if you get on with the neighbours this is a great one! Create the ‘battleships’ game on the ground either side of the fence and get your neighbours to shout their position to you and vice versa!
- Try meditation for a week – download an app and set aside 30 minutes a day. This can be done both outdoors and indoors (a great one for just before bed to calm the kids down!).
So whilst the kids can’t spend time outdoors with their friends as they normally would, there’s still plenty of other activities they can do. Make a pact to spend some time outdoors every day and you’ll find the health benefits for your little one (and you!) are worth it! Feel free to try some more activities of your own but most importantly…have some fun!