The Benefits of Outdoor Play for Children’s Physical and Mental Health

benefits of outdoor play

Children, being free-spirited and having that extra push of energy, enjoy playing outside as this exercises their freedom. All forms of play, especially outdoors, encourage children to explore and participate in physical activities. Outdoor recreation promotes an active physique for children and boosts their mental health. It can also help towards dynamic energy as prevention from different illnesses as they age. 

Outdoor activities expose children to nature and explore their limits and capabilities. They may also utilize this as an avenue to build their self-confidence and express themselves through different forms of play. Even though outdoor activities may sometimes result in a lot of mess, this proves that mess can add to the fun! The ample space to move around, jump, run, and even throw things displays more freedom and enables them to hone their fitness and motor skills. 

Exposing children to the outdoors, even at a young age, may help them boost their vitamin D levels from time to time. The natural environment may also serve as a means for them to be calmed down and relax. Moreover, the beauty of nature can also be supplemental to their mental health and overall well-being.  


Benefits of Outdoor Play to your child’s overall wellbeing

Through leisure and play, your children may utilize their energy and physical fitness through their various activities. The freedom and space to freely express themselves further enhance their spatial activity and serves as their exercise to prevent certain diseases or complications such as obesity. Moreover, being outdoors lowers the risk of myopia (short-sightedness) in children and young people.  

Kids playing outside benefit from the following: 

  • Running and chasing – develops physical fitness, stamina, and agility 
  • Jumping and running – improves bone density and stamina 
  • Climbing – for coordination, balance, and strength 
  • Freedom to shout, make noise and release tension 


  1. Boosts social interaction and collaboration

          As they play, they can interact with other children their age. Toys and play styles promote social interaction by including them in group play. Work on communication strategies by asking children questions regarding the play process:

    • How do you play the game?
    • Are you having fun? 
    • Why do you like this game or toy?  

          It also enables collaboration by sharing toys, exchanging, and even borrowing. They may also learn to create fictional stories from their resources, be creative, and confidently express themselves through various interactive activities. 

      2. Promotes overall physique development

          Children run, jump, kick, and climb when playing, using all their efforts and energy to exercise their gross motor skills. Through play, they build up the habit of being active. It can also help them prevent diseases acquired as they age, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.  

       3. Heightened focus and less stress

         Outdoor play enables your children to de-stress and release all their tension and energy to play. It helps them alleviate their stress and anxiety. Additionally, being in contact with nature enables your children to increase their focus and concentration in attention to detail. 

        4. Learn how to take risks 

         Trying new things may seem like a challenge for most children, although once enough confidence is acquired, they may be able to dare themselves to take the risk. Some examples include climbing the stairs/ladder, moving a little further away from an adult and returning, or even going closer to different animals in the area. Outdoor activities enable children to jump higher and run further. All of these activities are freely done under the supervision of an adult. 


The Best Outside Games for Kids To Play 

No matter what toddler outdoor play equipment there is or how complex the games to play outside are, all of these outdoor activities contribute to your child’s overall development. It affects them physically, socially, and emotionally. Different actions may come to play in the right setting at your convenience and with a suitable space for your child to move freely and engage with other children in the area. 


  1. Capture the Flag 

           This commonly played outdoor game requires six or more children and two flags (or any cloth/linen available with different colors) to signify the various teams. You may divide your area into two proportions, one for each group. Make sure to allocate enough room for the kids to run around and enjoy the game. Divide the children into two teams and designate a flag/color for their team. 

           The game’s objective: The players must run toward the other team’s side and steal the flag without getting tagged or caught. Once tagged/seen, they become “out.” Once your team has successfully captured the flag without getting tagged, your team wins. 


           A player will be designated the “it” for the first round. This player will be the one to throw a ball high up in the air and shout the name of another player. The player called must run to catch the ball as fast as possible, while the rest will run away. Upon catching the ball, the player will say, “SPUD!” and the rest of the players will “freeze.” The player with the ball will then throw the ball at someone else, and once it makes contact, the person will be tagged “it” and will get the “S.” The player who gets all the letters in “SPUD” loses the game. 

     3. Kick the Can 

           To begin, group people of 4 members and make someone the “it.” The ‘”it” will then be the one to kick the can while the other members hide. After counting to 100, the kicker will stand the can upright and shout, “Ready or not, here I come!”. They will start looking for the other players, and upon finding it, the kicker will yell the other person’s name. They will both run, race toward the can, and attempt to kick it. The game will end if the hider successfully kicks the can. If the kicker succeeds, the hider will be the one to replace the kicker, and the game continues. Other hiders may be free if other hiders successfully kick the can without being caught. The game comes to an end once everyone becomes captive. 

Encourage your child to play outside!

Playing outdoors is considered one of the best ways to keep your children active and enjoy their time appreciating the outdoors. Although, varying benefits of playing outside may be acquired wherever they play – indoors or out. Take them outside as they explore the wonders of nature through outdoor play. Limit their screen time and bring them out to increase their overall growth and development in all aspects.

If you are looking for tips to enable physical activity for children or your child experiences a minor injury during outside play. Look no further than Children’s Medical Centers of Fresno when searching for “pediatricians near me” for quality care and counseling for parents.

Please do not hesitate to contact our pediatric clinic! Learn more about our services offered at Children’s Medical Centers of Fresno

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