10 Benefits of Year Round Outdoor Play, for kids and parents!

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Play Outdoors with Your Kids This Fall! #CLIFKids

Benefits of year round play don’t just stop with kids. They also extend to parents. When is the right time to get outside with your kids?  Right. Now.  I’m excited to work with CLIF Kid on their campaign to get kids outside because there are so many reasons to just do it!

Benefits of Year Round Outdoor Play

Sadly, outdoor play is disappearing from many kids’ lives. We’re too busy or the weather is wrong. Too hot. Too cold. Too rainy. Too windy. In many cases, electronics have taken over. Busy school and work schedules. Too many activities to shuttle kids around to = a recipe for disaster and fewer and fewer kids are able to get outside anymore.

When I was young, I was kicked outside and told to come back for dinner. But that’s happening less often these days. And I get it. My own kids are shuttled to school early in the morning. Then I pick them up in the afternoon and rush them to after school activities. Sports. Music. Clubs. Girl Scouts. Gymnastics. All these extra activities have put a real damper on the time our kids spend outdoors. And it’s really a shame because outdoor play is so necessary for creating healthy, active, self-assured kids. While 70% of moms played outdoors when they were young, only 30% of today’s kids continue to play outdoors today.

But the benefits of year round outdoor play are immeasurable, and I hope you will be inspired to get outside with your kids after you read through all of these reasons for why you should!

Let them play in the dirt.

Benefits of Year Round Outdoor Play 

Vitamin D – 

Everyone needs to be in the sun from time to time to get Vitamin D in the body. Vitamin D is actually not a vitamin at all. It’s actually considered a pro-hormone because the body is capable of producing its own vitamin D through exposure to the sun. As a freckled red-head, I understand the fine balance between sun burns and safe sun exposure, but in reality, it doesn’t take much sun exposure at all to give the body what it needs: 5-10  minutes exposure on bare skin, 2-3 times per week.

There are so many reasons to get natural vitamin D from the sun. Among other things, Vitamin D is essential for healthy bones and teeth, and can also increase immunity, help us feel happy, increase metabolism, help us sleep better, and lower blood pressure.


Develope social awareness –

Outdoor play also helps with the development of social awareness, cooperation, fairness and altruism. Just getting kids outside and letting them play in an unstructured environment helps with social, behavioral and motor skills according to a 2007 study.

Increase concentration –

Not only is getting active outdoors great for the body, expending energy outdoors is also great for helping kids and parents focus at school and work. Outdoor play really does make us smarter and has been has been linked to greater creativity and problem-solving, improved reading levels, and higher IQ scores.

Fight obesity – 

Playing outside is a great way to get bodies active. Sadly, according to the CDC obesity in children has sharply increased among children and adolescents, and in 2012, fully 1/3 of kids and adolescents were found to be overweight or obese. Getting active outdoors is a great way to combat obesity.

Benefits of Year Round Outdoor Play, for kids and parents

Creative minds –

Just look at what kids are able to do when they’re outside without toys or electronic distractions! My kids were out recently playing in a dirt mound and found a bunch of clay. They were so proud to show me the clayman they made. I love the creativity that was at work creating that!

Create healthy habits –

Getting kids used to active behavior can help set them up for life. Getting off the couch is a great thing for everyone in the family.

Increased immunity –

You might think that exposure to dirt, bacteria, and animals is bad for kids and could make them sick. But it’s just not true. In reality, exposure to a wide range of things found is nature is actually good for kids, and studies show that kids who spend more time outside are less likely to develop auto-immune disorders and allergies.

Benefits of Year Round Outdoor Play. Let them play in the dirt.

Improve your mood – 

According to the Mayo Clinic, spending time outside can reduce winter depression or Seasonal Affective Disorder. I don’t know about you, but I notice a real difference in mood in both myself and my children during the dark days of winter. Outdoor light exposure can help even when it’s cold and cloudy.

Opportunity to learn about natural world –

There are so many things kids learn about when they go outside. From looking at animal tracks to collecting rocks, sticks, and feathers, getting active outside provides so many teaching opportunities.

Bond with your family – 

During this busy life, it’s so necessary to let it all go and get outside. What are kids seem to want most, is access to us. Without all the distractions. The crave real attention and genuine interest. Getting outside is a great way to connect with your family and enjoy life.

In October, I made weekend outdoor activities with my kids a priority. Each weekend, we did a different outdoor activity because there are so many fun things to do outdoors right now! One weekend we headed to a state park, another weekend, we went to a recreation area, and another weekend the kids practiced archery and we took a spooky hike in the dark!


So get outside, already!

Just  because the weather is getting colder, that doesn’t mean the outdoor activities have to end. Reach out to your local environmental agencies and see what they have lined up this winter. Snowshoeing, sledding, skiing, ice fishing – these are all fun activities you can continue to do with your family after the weather is cold. I challenge you to find one fun outdoor activity with your family each weekend this fall and winter!

What’s one outdoor activity you will do with your family before spring?

10 Benefits of Year Round Outdoor Play, for kids and parents! Let CLIF Kid inspire you to get outdoors with your family during all sorts of weather. The benefits are immeasurable. AD

About Michelle Marine

Michelle Marine is the author of How to Raise Chickens for Meat, a long-time green-living enthusiast, and rural Iowa mom of four. She empowers families to grow and eat seasonal, local foods; to reduce their ecological footprint; and to come together through impactful travel.

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