Take a second to think about your childhood. You probably remember your favorite playground and the days you spent at the park outside enjoying and having fun with your family and friends.
There are numerous benefits of being active outdoors especially in today’s society. Nowadays, children spend a lot of time in their homes, glued to the computer screen or their phone. Many parents feel that technology helps to keep their children occupied while they have work to do or need some leisure time for themselves. What they don’t know is that a simple afternoon spent in a nearby park has various benefits for the kids and for themselves as well. It does take a bit more effort than to just give them an iPad, but it’s worth it.
So, how often do you go to the park with your children?
Gross Motor Skills
If you don’t know what gross motor skills are, you are in the right place. They involve large muscles in the legs, arms, and torso and include running, walking, throwing, kicking, lifting, etc. Gross motor skills are crucial to balance, strength, reaction speed, and body awareness, so you can imagine how important it is for your kids to develop them properly.
Playground equipment can be a game-changer when it comes to a child’s gross motor skills. Kids need to climb, jump, crawl, or just hang on the monkey bars. If you don’t have a playground with equipment anywhere near your home, don’t worry. Good old metal park benches can be a great substitute if you have small children. They are fixed to the ground and very heavy, so there is no chance they will move or flip around. Your kids can also use various ladders to improve their balance or any bar to strengthen their hands. Sometimes, just running around is enough to gain cardio endurance and, therefore, prevent obesity and other health conditions.
Developing Independence And Social Skills
Today many children live structured and supervised lives and playing in the park often gives them freedom. While playing outdoors they can explore safely, interact socially, and develop independence. Since they are without direct supervision from their parents, they can learn to make their own decisions and feel self-empowered.
On the other hand, children often participate in various group activities that help them build basic social skills and communicate better. They also have a chance to meet different kids than those they see at school every day. Park is a great place for your kids to develop new friendships and learn to respect each other.
You already know how important exercise is for overall health and this refers to your kids as well. The good news is that playing in the park with their friends doesn’t feel like exercising to the children, although it actually is. Chasing each other around, running, and racing builds their strength, physical fitness, and cardiovascular system. While in the park, children are in constant motion, which has numerous health benefits. A variety of equipment is always helpful, so make sure you take them to a playground that has swings, monkey bars, slides, or climbing frames. Not to mention the advantages of spending some time in the sun. Did you know that it takes only 15 minutes of sun exposure for our body to create enough vitamin D for the whole day? Vitamin D is essential for our sleep, bone strength, and immune system.
Studies have shown that kids consider parks to be the best places for physical activity. Being active and enjoying exercise is especially important nowadays with rising obesity rates in children all over the world. If your kids enjoy playing and running around the park they will easily burn off extra calories and stay fit and athletic.
Both children and adults need fresh air to stay healthy. Research has shown that kids who spend a lot of time outdoors generally have better digestion, more energy, and increased white blood cells than kids who play at home every day. Not to mention that they are in a better mood most of the time.
Now that you know how important it is to take your kids to parks regularly, you may be wondering how to incorporate this healthy habit into your lifestyle. Well, it’s pretty simple. Kids look up to you, and you can always lead them by example. Start spending more time in nature yourself and make your visits to the park a family hobby. If you give your children the opportunity to learn to love the outdoors they will be grateful forever and carry those healthy habits throughout their adulthood.