January is often a long, cold month that involves staying inside as much as possible. However, despite this attitude being prevalent in the UK for generations, there are an array of reasons that spending time outside during sub-zero temperatures of winter should be one of your New Year’s resolutions this year. We’ve put together a list and explanation for just five of the many reasons activities outside in the winter can work wonders for the health of your family.
Despite the alarming lack of sunshine throughout the winter months of the UK, there is still enough daylight to provide enough of a daily intake. Sunlight and Vitamin D, or a lack of, can detrimentally affect mood and outdoor play is one of the best ways to keep teary tantrums at bay. While adults can accommodate for inside jobs or busy lifestyles with vitamin supplements, children can’t, and it is essential for healthy bone growth that they acquire as much as possible from natural sources.
Increased Creativity and Concentration
Various studies have proven that by even taking just a stroll outside during your breaks or time off, you can experience fundamental improvements in brain function and mental focus. Research proves that people who spend time outdoors are typically 50% more creative than those who spend their days in front of a computer screen, but if you have to use one for work or study, then the negative effects can be remedied by a walk in the great outdoors. Other studies focused specifically on children showed that children who strolled through a park experienced a greater increase in focus compared to those who walked through an urban area.
Avoiding “Indoor” Germs
One of the best, most-surprising benefit of playing outdoors during the winter is the avoidance of viruses and bacteria. Despite folklore and old wives’ tales warning of catching the flu in cold conditions, it seems it is more beneficial to escape the bacteria that is circulated and recycled throughout the winter with no escape. Spending more time outside will assist the development of a strong immune system as you are exposed and fight off bacteria in a natural setting. Children who spend lots of time outside, come rain or shine, are less likely to develop autoimmune disorders and allergies in the future.
We all need to be more active, and ‘getting fitter’ is likely to feature on the New Year’s resolutions of mums and dads up and down the country, but whilst it’s recommended that adults get a minimum of half an hour exercise a day, did you know that number is doubled when it comes to children? When children do not complete enough exercise, the left-over energy can be used in all sorts of negative ways, including affecting their sleep cycle and eating habits. In turn, this has knock-on effects for their ability to maintain a healthy body weight. Because of the challenges presented by outdoor activity during the colder months, muscle growth, strength and gross-motor development are all improved tenfold.
Outdoor play also provides children of all ages various opportunities for learning and development, be it about nature, problem-solving or other life skills. Sometimes the cold, wet or snowy conditions ensure they think outside the box in terms of keeping themselves entertained outside and often will come up with new games and activities that are weather-appropriate. Even by just factoring in considerations to the outside conditions, they are forced to approach activities with an action-consequence process in mind, for example, if I run down that path, I could slip over and hurt myself. These are transferable skills that are bound to stay with them through childhood and can even relate to circumstances in the workplace that need resolving.
In the 21st century, we are all too reliant on technology. Give your eyes a well-deserved break from the screen, lead by example and head out to the beautiful surroundings of our private school in Devon to make the most of some of the most beautiful countryside in the UK! We hope our reasons have inspired you to opt outside this winter, and perhaps look to embrace the cold weather instead of hiding inside!