We all know that January 1st is New Year’s Day, but this year, it is also National Play Outside Day. Unlike many other celebration days that occur once a year, National Play Outside Day happens each month, on the first Saturday. It is our monthly reminder to get outside and have some fun. This year, we get to kick off 2022 by spending time in the great outdoors!
Aaron Wiggans and Rhonda D. Abeyta started National Play Outside Day in 2011 as a way to encourage kids to spend less time on screens and more time in nature. Many studies show that playing outside does wonders for children’s physical and mental health.
Benefits of Outdoor Play
1. Better physical development
Adequate physical activity reduces the risk of conditions such as childhood obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Outdoor play helps children to develop motor skills, strengthen muscles and bones, and build up a healthy supply of vitamin D.
2. Improved socio-emotional skills
Kids who are connected to nature tend to display more positive behaviors and fewer emotional difficulties than peers who do not spend sufficient time in green spaces. Outdoors is the setting where children are most likely to engage in unstructured play. They are given the freedom to explore, discover and imagine. Through these experiences, they learn to express creativity, develop social skills and build resilience.
3. Increased cognitive performance
Research shows that children who regularly engage in nature-based play demonstrate longer attention spans and improved working memory. Some studies indicate that kids can better concentrate after playing in a natural setting.
4. Enhanced sensory skills
Several studies highlight a link between the amount of time spent outside and a reduced risk of developing myopia. Researchers conclude that more time outdoors can prevent or delay nearsightedness.
Nature positively impacts all of our senses. Observing seasonal changes, smelling flowers, picking up pinecones, listening to bird calls and tasting honeysuckle activate the senses and contribute to children’s perceptive abilities.
5. Respect for the environment
Kids who have positive experiences in nature are found to be more likely to demonstrate environmentally responsible behaviors. They develop an appreciation for natural elements and wildlife and support efforts to protect the environment.
How to Celebrate National Play Outside Day
Step one: go outside and have fun with your friends and family. It’s that simple. You can play tag, climb a tree, go on a hike—the possibilities are endless.
Playing outside helps kids to grow strong and healthy minds and bodies. We can help them maintain strong and healthy teeth. Contact Pediatric Dental Group to schedule an appointment.