The weather is quickly changing out there, and the white stuff is starting to accumulate; whether you are excited or sad about it, winter has officially arrived! The temperatures may be tempting you to get cozy on the couch and put on a movie with your family, but we urge you to use this opportunity to get outside and play instead! Starting a habit of this now will encourage your children to incorporate outdoor play throughout the winter months, rather than hiding inside behind a screen.
Are Electronics Keeping Children Indoors?
We know that children are getting addicted to technology at an increasingly growing rate which makes sitting indoors to play a game on their phone or game system a lot more attractive for many; but this can do more damage than good. In fact, in a recent NPR report, it was revealed that the average child under the age of eight spends approximately two hours and 20 minutes behind a screen each day. What’s more is that A National Trust survey discovered kids between the ages of 10 to 16 spend less than 15 minutes involved in energetic outdoor activity each day. Once winter arrives, the amount of time children spend on their gadgets only increases for the most part.
Perhaps we should start asking ourselves as parents why this is. Are we influencing this decline because it seems too difficult to bundle our children up on those frigid days? Are we worried they will get sick? Maybe it comes down to wondering what in the world they will do to stay entertained? It could be a few factors, and we aren’t knocking any of them because let’s face it, winter play DOES require more planning and slightly more effort than going out for the afternoon in the summer or spring. With a bit of extra attention however, it can be as fun as the warmer months out there!
The Advantages of Winter Play
The little tidbit of information to take away? There are surprisingly LOTS of winter play advantages for your children that may have never crossed your mind.
Let’s dive into a few of them now…
Children Can Avoid Indoor Germs
Like many, you may be under the old assumption that the cold air is exactly what causes a cold. The truth, however? If dressed properly, the temperature outside doesn’t affect whether your child will pick up a bug or not.
This might be the most shocking benefit of playing outdoors in the winter but yes, being outside is good for the health of our children. Why? With the volume of bacteria and viruses that typically spread throughout the winter season, it is imperative that families get outdoors where there is circulation and endless fresh air. Any germs that are brought indoors are recycled repeatedly through our air vents spreading to others in your household, so trying to get outside will simultaneously reduce the number of germs that are brought inside.
Believe it or not, but exposure to these germs is better to be done outside rather than inside. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), letting your children get exposed to some of the bacteria in a natural setting can make them less likely to develop allergies and autoimmune disorders.
As you can see outdoor play in the winter is crucial! Reduce the spread of infections and allow your children to breathe in the wonderful crisp, fresh air!
Improves Exercise Levels
Regular exercise is equally important for both adults and children; in relation to children specifically though, it is recommended that they get 60 minutes a day. When exercise is ignored or children aren’t getting enough, their energy and sleep cycles are negatively impacted. Not only that, their appetite is often affected by a lack of exercise as well which can lead to development issues and trouble maintaining a healthy body weight. Regular exercise is a great benefit of course, but exercise in the winter particularly is even better for your child’s health because it contributes to muscle growth, gross-motor development and strength!
If you stop and consider the outdoor environment that winter conditions create, you’ll realize that even just walking around in the snow engages more muscles and requires more effort. Building a snowman, sledding, or shovelling a driveway also typically requires slightly more activity and energy to perform. All in all, the winter months offer unique circumstances for both children and adults to experience increased exercise levels.
Boosts Creativity, Motivating Children to Think Outside the Box
As the outdoor play equipment becomes covered in ice and snow, children are inevitably confronted with having to seek alternative methods of fun and entertainment. This challenge helps to stimulate their imaginations, promoting a different way of thinking. A snowy backyard may prompt various physical and cognitive experiments such as “how will I pack this snow tightly to build my snow fort?” and achieving a new level of awareness as they adapt their footing and behaviour in this new slippery environment. Most of all, children will develop new life lessons and skills as they play in the snowy outdoors.
Children Receive Essential Vitamin D
Your children need exposure to vitamin D for several health reasons – it not only promotes absorption; it also helps to build strong bones which reduces the chances of bone deformities like rickets. Because children can’t take Vitamin D supplements as adults can, it is essential for kids to get that much needed exposure outside on sunny days! Remember, sunlight and vitamin D have a large impact on daily mood, which means getting the kids outside to play in the snow will keep them smiling as well!
How to Encourage Outdoor Play? Try a New Sport or Activity:
Winter is an excellent time to try a new winter sport or activity out as a family. Here are a few ideas:
- Winter Hiking
- Ice fishing
- Making snow sculptures
SPI has an extensive line of outdoor playground equipment offering a wide array of colour combinations, and custom designs to meet your every need. Safety standards around the world are observed, understood and applied in the creation of each SPI product.
If you have questions about a potential project you’d like to start in the New Year, please contact us to find out all your options! We are looking forward to partnering with you through this exciting time.