We all know that children love playing outside in the summer, and we encourage them to do so, but what about the winter? It may be a parental instinct to keep children inside a warm house, perhaps that is not what is best for them after all!
According to government advice and research collated by the International Congress on Physical Activity and Public Health, children should have at least an hour of moderate physical exercise every day. The bad news is that just 15 per cent of girls aged 11 to 15 actually do this, and the figure for boys is not much better at 22 per cent.
This is a worrying trend because there are huge benefits to be gained from playing outside in the winter. Here are four of them.
1. Higher-quality exercise
The exercise that children take part in outside is more valuable than that carried out inside. Childrens wooden climbing frames from a supplier such as https://www.niclimbingframes.com/childrens-wooden-climbing-frames force them to use their large muscles and help with gross motor development because they have to climb and balance.
2. Germ-free environment
Bacteria and viruses can survive for lengthy periods on surfaces indoors. The bugs that cause coughs, colds and stomach upsets easily move from one infected child to another by direct spread through aerosols from the mouth and nose. Children playing outside do not come into such close contact with each other, and there are fewer opportunities for infection to spread.
In addition, there are fewer surfaces where the bugs can survive because the temperatures are lower and the environment is harsher.
3. Teaches problem-solving
Toys are not as readily accessible during the winter. They may be covered in snow or frost, or they might be wet. This requires children to come up with solutions to this problem.
They may have to devise new games or find ways to clear snow or ice from equipment. They may simply use the snow or ice as a basis for a game.
4. Vitamin D production
We need to be outside for our bodies to manufacture Vitamin D because our skin needs to be exposed to sunlight. Vitamin D affects our energy levels and our mood. When sunlight hits our skin, the Vitamin D that is produced encourages our bodies to produce serotonin, which is a feel-good hormone.