6 Reasons Your Kid Should Play Outside, According to Science

kids playing outsideIn decades past, the simple joys of playing outside were something most kids took for granted. But between increasingly busy extracurricular schedules and parents' safety concerns, today's kids spend less time outdoors than any other generation so far -- and that's not a good thing!

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You've probably already noticed how much happier your kids seem after a few hours spent running around at the park or in the backyard (as opposed to a few hours zoning out in front of the screen). According to science, that's because they really are happier -- and healthier, too.

Here are just a few of the amazing benefits your kid gets from playing outside:

1. Being in nature could improve attention span.

According to one study, spending time in "green" outdoor settings seemed to reduce ADHD symptoms -- inattention and impulsivity -- in kids.

More from CafeMom: 22 Ideas to Get You Outside & Playing With Your Kids

2. And it may reduce stress.

A study by two Cornell University environmental psychologists found that being around nature is a "significant factor" in kids' mental and emotional health. Again, this shouldn't come as a surprise -- just think how much better a long walk outside makes you feel when you're stressed out!

3. Sunlight provides essential vitamin D.

The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that a large number of kids don't get enough vitamin D. Deficiencies can contribute to everything from bone problems to diabetes to heart disease. Sunlight is a great source of this crucial vitamin -- just remember to prevent skin damage while kids are soaking up rays by applying sunscreen!

4. Being outside can even improve eyesight.

Here's one benefit you might not have thought of: Research published in Optometry and Vision Science revealed that kids who play outside had better distance vision than kids who primarily play inside. Experts think this might have something to do with the pupil constriction that takes place in bright outdoor light.

More from CafeMom: Mom Endures Outrageous CPS Visit for Letting Her Kid Play Outside

5. Dirt helps build a strong immune system.

Not only is it okay for kids to get their hands (and everything else) dirty, it's essential: Kids actually need to be exposed to dirt and germs for their immune systems to develop properly. The extra laundry you'll have to do is worth it!

6. Outdoor play prevents obesity.

Just because this one's kind of a no-brainer doesn't make it any less important: According to research, kids who play outside are more physically active, which not only helps to prevent childhood obesity but also can improve cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and bone density.

Sounds like it's time for parents everywhere to put the phrase "go outside and play" back into our vocabulary!

 

Image via iStock.com/AleksandarNakic

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