The benefits of getting outside with your children - #OptOutside
We believe in getting active outdoors. It’s where the fun is in life, where we do the things we’ll remember forever and where we create some of the best moments with our friends and family. It’s about so much more than just trying to live a ‘healthy, balanced life’.
After all, when you look back on your life, you’re probably not going to wish you’d spent more time staring at a screen.
The best and most memorable moments of our lives and our childhoods are the ones we spent doing fun stuff with the people we love. Whether that was spending the day at the beach, getting in the water, going on hikes or just jumping on our bikes and riding over to the nearest football pitch.
Increasingly though, research shows that children are spending less and less time outdoors and are more likely to choose to stay in and play video games or watch videos online. There’s definitely nothing wrong with this in moderation (we all love a good Netflix binge, right?), but by not getting outside as much, children could be missing out on some important health and developmental benefits.
That’s why we’re supporting the #OptOutside campaign this Black Friday and want to encourage people, both young and old, to spend more time having fun outdoors.
Whilst the motivation for getting outdoors with your kids should always be to have as much fun as possible, there are plenty of other benefits that they will get from being active. We’ve listed some of the big ones below, as well as a few tips to help you get the most out of your time spent outdoors:
Health and fitness
Experts generally recommend that everybody should be active for at least 60 minutes a day; getting outside to play is an easy and fun way to stay active. The list of outdoor activities for health and fitness is endless; from walks to surfing to swimming in the sea. Active play is the best type of exercise for children.
Active play has also been proven to help improve children’s coordination. Playing with a ball, riding a bike, balancing on a surfboard or playing on a climbing frame allows children to coordinate the ways in which their arms and legs work together in unison and learn about balance. It’s an important skill to work on early on and is much easier to pick up when you’re young.
A dose of Vitamin D
Vitamin D offers several health benefits; it helps to strengthen our bones, teeth and muscles, while also helping to prevent diseases. You can take supplements which help boost our Vitamin D dose; however, we can absorb Vitamin D by just being active outdoors for a short period of time and it’s totally free. Just spending ten minutes a day outside can have lifelong benefits, and we work best when we’ve had our daily dose of sunshine (or clouded skies if you’re in the UK!).
Creativity thrives in the outdoors, the natural world is full of exciting things for children to discover. Getting out there really helps children to explore new ideas and engage all their senses. Being outside can also help us to disconnect fully from work, and more importantly, be an opportunity for us to communicate with our children without technology getting in the way.
Play more and take a hands-on approach
A hands-on, play-focused approach to learning means to learn while doing an activity, rather than just absorbing knowledge from the internet, TV or a book. Kids learn a lot quicker when they’re having fun and hands-on outdoor learning has actually been shown to improve a child’s academic performance.
Set a goal
Many children flourish when they have a goal to aim for, but that’s not to say outdoor activities need rigid planning and structure. In fact, some of the most fun adventures are spontaneous, and flexibility is vital – particularly if you live in the UK and the activities in mind are weather dependent. Start small and realistic, with the goal of getting outside for an hour a day. Chances are your kids will be on board after just a few days and will start discovering a range of interests and talents they didn’t know about.
Keep the activities varied
To avoid boredom setting in and potentially putting your kids off natural environments for life, it’s a good idea plan a range of different activities to keep all of your children interested. A woodland walk on Wednesday, an open-water swim on Thursday and den-building on Friday; mix it up and have some fun. If you’re ever stuck for some inspiration Pinterest can be a great place to find ideas of things to do.
Give them responsibilities that require time spent outside
Giving children the responsibility to water plants or letting them look after a sunflower allows them to learn fundamental skills while also getting outdoors. Helping them to learn that they need to take care of something for it to live and grow.
When you’re at the beach you could also do a 2-minute beach clean with your children. This will not only show them the huge impact that plastic waste has on our seas and coastline, but helps them to learn that caring for the environment is all of our responsibilities.
We hope this inspires you to #OptOutside more with your family. We’d love to hear what are your favourite activities to do outside with your children. Let us know what you’re up to via our social channels, either by dropping us a message or using #OptOutside and #dryrobeterritory.