FeatureSports & Health

Keeping kids active during the winter is essential

(NC) With cabin fever setting in and kids struggling with changing pandemic safety rules, spending time outdoors is a great way to help them stay happy and active.

Fortunately, there are plenty of things you can do when you bundle up – from skating and tobogganing to neighbourhood walks.

Wondering if it’s worth the effort? Science shows that time outdoors is important for a healthy lifestyle for children and contributes to their development.

Here, The Genius of Play, a nonprofit initiative that works to educate parents and caregivers about the benefits of play and to inspire families to play more, shares five reasons we should be making outdoor play a priority:

Physical health: Research has shown that physically active kids tend to be leaner and healthier, while an inactive childhood can lead to a sedentary (and likely unhealthy) lifestyle in adulthood. Physical play builds motor skills that can contribute to success in school and beyond.

Experience new things: Outdoor play gives children the opportunity to step outside their comfort zones and try new things. While taking risks won’t always lead to success on the first try, moments like skating without a chair support are helpful for building the confidence and resilience needed to pursue a future career or handle life’s many challenges.

Build social skills: Childhood games played outdoors can build social skills and teach kids to follow directions. Games as simple as tag or hide-and-seek build communication, teamwork and other important social skills.

Use their imaginations: Being outside can encourage kids to tap into their creativity and come up with solutions to challenges. For example, a leisurely afternoon in the park spent doing an activity such as learning how to build a snowman can accomplish this in a fun way.

Mental well-being: Much of outdoor play involves physical activity, thrilling moments and a sense of freedom, all of which can boost endorphins, lower stress levels, and reduce anxiety and depression. Simply touching dirt when creating mud pies or digging for worms can be beneficial. So, don’t be afraid to let your kids get a bit dirty out there.

Find play ideas, expert advice and other play resources at thegeniusofplay.org.

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