The Benefits of Playing Outside for Children

Go Play Outside

How many of us heard “Go play outside!” almost every day as children? It brings back memories of tree climbing, backyard discovery missions, games of tag, and kick the can. This is something missing in the lives of many young people today, especially following the pandemic. It’s important we explore what can be gained from spending time outside regularly and encouraging our kids to reconnect with nature.

What are the benefits of playing outside?

  • It’s a fun way to get exercise, which promotes coordination, muscle strength, a healthy BMI, and good habits.
  • It’s a good source of vitamin D, a nutrient that benefits bone development, immune systems, mood, and sleep health.
  • Nature inspires creativity, self-entertainment, and offers a mindfulness experience that decreases stress and helps them focus.
  • Unstructured play fosters cooperation, sharing, negotiation, and socialization.
  • Having more space decreases the likelihood of conflict.


How can we encourage kids to play outside?

A simple plan is just to take your regular activities outdoors. For example, eat meals on the porch or back deck, or play board games or card games at an outdoor table. On hot days, grab the hose and fill up some water balloons or put a pool at the end of the slide. Sometimes even teens like to play on a playground, and kids of widely varying ages enjoy finding fun new treasures while geocaching (there are free apps for that: just search in your mobile app store). Bring a basketball or baseball and mitt to the park. The recreational center in your area and your local parks department offer fun, free options.

For St. Louis County residents, visit:

If you are in St. Charles, a link to the parks summer activity guide is available for viewing here:

Your local recreation council typically has a free activity newsletter that you can subscribe to and may have funds available for children with developmental differences. Visit

Blueprint 4 offers a fast, free, and easy way to find activities for children and families. Learn more here: 

It takes a little effort and planning but no matter what, modeling is important. The best thing we can do to help our kids get outside is to do so ourselves. Just as it is with eating vegetables, if our kids see us spending time outside, they are much more likely to try it. Parents often report that spending time outside brings more peace to their families.

Check it out and go play outside… you’ll be glad you did!