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4 Reasons to Get Your Kids to Spend More Time Outdoors

If you have difficulty getting your kids to settle into bed on time every night or if they wake up feeling groggy, one tip is to ensure they spend time playing outdoors during the day. 

The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry says that U.S. children from eight to 12 spend four to six hours daily watching or using screens, while teenagers spend up to nine hours daily doing the same. And that excessive screen time can lead to images of exposure to substance use, violence, anti-social behavior, and other questionable things. 

Instead of letting your kids spend too much time staring at screens, consider outdoor playground options like seesaws, merry-go-rounds, balance beams, crawl tubes, climbers, and other fun and engaging playground activities that’ll get them moving.

Keep reading to see four reasons you need to get your children to spend more time outdoors.

  1. Socialize With Peers

When children play outdoors, there’s often a social component. Outdoor play encourages interaction, teamwork, and problem-solving depending on the game or activity. So, rather than allowing your kids to spend hours every day staring at a TV, tablet, or smartphone, let them play outdoors with siblings, neighbors, friends, and other peers.

  1. Get and Stay Fit

Another reason kids should be encouraged to spend more time playing outside is that it can help them to get and stay fit. According to one source, people who go hiking can burn up to 438 calories per hour. Even going for a walk in the neighborhood — or riding a bike around the block — can help. Just ensure that the physical activity is fun so that it doesn’t feel like a fitness regime.

  1. More Activity

The Canadian Fitness and Lifestyle Research Institute says children who engage in unorganized physical activities or sports in afterschool hours take 1,300 steps per day more than other Canadian kids. 

While this research targets Canadian children, it’s not unreasonable to believe there could be similar benefits for American children. Rather than going home after school and playing video games or watching TV, children engage in physical activity.

If you have young kids, one way to up the activity level is by taking them to a well-equipped playground.

“There is a wide variety of playground equipment available today,” says Matt Allison of commercial playground equipment company Actively Play. “The industry is always innovating.  Traditional deck and post playground structures are still very popular and typically the focal point of most playgrounds. You’ll also see intricate net climbers, themed elements to inspire the imagination, innovative swings, and unique freestanding equipment. There is a lot of cool stuff available. We focus on custom playground design as well as stocking popular playground structures so they can be shipped and installed quickly.”

He adds that people of different levels of physical ability can use his company’s commercial playground equipment. 

  1. Better Sleep

A chronic lack of sleep isn’t only harmful for adults — it’s also a negative for children of all ages. 

It can lead to trouble focusing and concentrating in class, contribute to mood swings, and cause other severe health issues. If your kids don’t get enough sleep, you should encourage them to spend time outdoors during the daytime so their circadian rhythms are properly calibrated. That’s important since the circadian rhythm — the body’s internal clock — influences bedtime and wake-up time patterns. A good night’s rest can work wonders.

If you’re looking for good reasons to get your kids to spend more time outside than inside, remember these four tips. It’s not just about getting them to have fun outdoors with friends — as important as that is. It’s also about encouraging improved mental and physical health.

One way to ensure they engage in sufficient outdoor physical activity is to participate with them. So, don’t just tell them what to do. Show them by practicing what you preach so they appreciate the importance of outdoor physical activity. You can plan outdoor fun that your kids can’t resist.