Body + Mind is reader-supported. We may earn an affiliate commission when you buy through some of the links on our site.
Summer is here — do you need any further excuse to get outside and have some fun with your little ones? After the past year’s quarantines, who isn’t craving fresh air and sunshine? However, you don’t have to survive a pandemic to reap the perks of the great outdoors. Here are the top nine benefits of playing outside with your kids. You’ll do your body and mind a world of good.
According to the guidelines recently revised by the World Health Organization (WHO), adults should get 150 to 300 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise per week, which translates to 30 to 60 minutes five days per week. Unfortunately, many folks struggled to meet the old guidelines, which only required 150 minutes of moderate movement.
Getting outside with your kids increases your activity level without adding another workout to your day. Wear a fitness tracker if you have one to monitor your progress.
Even if you ride your treadmill religiously, you work the same primary muscle groups each time. Mixing it up can improve your overall conditioning and fitness level.
Play with your kids in the sandbox, and you’ll engage your quads and hamstrings as you squat. Climb the monkey bars at the playground — your shoulders will feel it in the morning.
Do you want to decrease your chances of getting sick? Try playing outside with your kids. Research published by the National Institutes of Health indicates doing so increases the number and activity in natural killer cells, critical components of your body’s defense against germs.
The magic lies in phytoncides, which are substances plants emit for defense from predators. When humans inhale these, it stimulates immune function.
Vitamin D isn’t by rights a nutrient at all — it’s a hormone your body produces with exposure to sunlight. Experts recommend getting 10 to 30 minutes of midday sunlight to generate the requisite amount.
What about sunscreen? It does block the UVB rays necessary for sunlight, although the effect isn’t as pronounced in the summertime. Try spending 10 to 15 minutes without it during the colder months, but slather it on during July and August in most locations.
Cortisol is a tricky stress hormone. It takes over where adrenaline leaves off, preparing your body for a prolonged onslaught. Unfortunately, it often demands reinforcements in the form of high-fat, high-calorie foods that you no longer need for outrunning hungry lions.
The result? Added pounds, often around the waistline, where physicians consider them most dangerous. However, the combined effect of the outdoor air and increased exercise drop your levels — making it easier to keep your keto resolution.
Depression steals your joy and energy. You might not feel like heading outside, but your mood will improve once you do.
While you shouldn’t let guilt drive you, your desire to make your kids happy can inspire you. You can also apply the 5-minute rule — try joining them for five minutes only. Chances are, once you get out there, you will want to stay.
Look at many great works of art, and you’ll recognize a common motif — nature. Something about the outdoors evokes the imagination.
Playing with your kids also inspires your creativity. That sliding board transforms into Mt. Doom as you and your faithful hobbit companion climb to destroy the ring — and enjoy a fun return trip.
Is working from home starting to drag on you? While some prefer telecommuting, others can’t wait to return to the office for the productivity-boosting benefits. However, you can reap many of them by stepping outside.
Research indicates that gazing at something green can improve attention and performance in the workplace. Natural settings capture your attention without overwhelming your eyes, leading to reduced stress and improved focus.
Last but not least, the top benefit of playing outside with your kids is to cement your bond and grow closer together. When you are out in nature, you simply relate to each other without all the pressure of deadlines and grades.
You might even get your little one to open up to you about their troubles. Sitting at the kitchen table can feel like being in the hot seat, even in healthy family systems. When your kids are at play, they feel relaxed and can confess what’s troubling their minds.
Now that summer is here, why not take full advantage and get out there with your children? You’ll reap the benefits of playing outside with your kids, and both come away healthier and happier.