Five kids doing outdoor play together, playing, laughing and smiling

10 Benefits of Outdoor Play for Kids

Being outside for kids at a young age is out of the biggest importance for their healthy development. Running, jumping, seeking, exploring, socializing, and finding new things outside their usual comfort zone is all that playing is about. 

Now, as the hot weather is still present, parents can often hear those ‘I’m bored’ words while their kid is climbing on your head. If you do not own a backyard, all you need to do is take your kid outside. The exploring will start itself.

For that reason, we are going to check the benefits of outdoor play and see how can that affect kids’ development. 

Why is Playing Outside Important?

Parents strive to raise their children to be healthy, well-rounded, independent, and compassionate people. And, the best way to do that is to let your kid play outside.  


The time kid spends outside and away from mobile devices improves their physical health, as well as their emotional and intellectual toughness.

The benefits of playing outdoor games and stepping away from the screen are undeniable. Think of it this way, whether it’s a simple walk to a nature park or a hike through the woods, kids will benefit from it much more than staying at home.

Let’s check all those benefits of playing outside and how can that be crucial for kids’ development


#1 Exposure to natural sunlight

Constant exposure to sunlight, especially in those hot hours, without sunscreen can be dangerous. But, adults, as well as kids, need sun. The moderate and protected time in the sun can help kids gain vitamin D. This vitamin is crucial for the health of the bones and for building a stronger immune system. 

Kids also benefit from sun exposure in other ways, such as better sleep, a more positive mood, and a stronger immune system. A daily dose of sunshine is best for our and little ones’ bodies. To prove the point, folks that live in the North, usually take supplements such as vitamin B to reimburse for the lack of sunlight. 

Strengthening and maintaining the health of the bones and teeth is dependent on adequate levels of vitamin D in children. Therefore, here are just some of the benefits of vitamin D:

  • Boosting immune function
  • Preventing diseases
  • Boosting mood
  • Lowering risk of obesity

#2 Higher awareness of the environment

Do you know that kids who play outside will grow up into adults who value nature and the environment? Studies have confirmed these theses. This passion comes from children’s own experiences with nature from a young age. They connect through flowers, going barefoot on different surfaces, climbing on trees, listening to birds, taking care of our little furry four-legs friends, catching butterflies and ladybugs, watching sunsets, and exploring parks.

As a result of these wonderful memories they create, kids grow into informed, compassionate adults. Due to their understanding of how valuable these things are, they are more motivated to protect them.


As we mentioned above, being outside triggers all of our senses. And this is highly connected to the environment they are surrounded. For example, when kids are outside they can explore the things around and start asking questions like what type of animal is that? What kind of tree is this? Where can we find this flower?

Your child might develop a previously undiscovered interest in science or environmental activism.

#3 Increased physical activity

Being physically active is no strange thing for kids. However, when they are in the house the whole day, every day, physical activity is neglected. Kids should be in active play for at least an hour a day, and the best way to ensure this is to take them outside for healthy activity

Even though kids can exercise indoors, sending them outside to play – especially with other peers encourages activities. Kids can play different sports that they are unable to do while in the house, including, basketball, football, volleyball, and other sports that involve a ball. Also, time spent outside can benefit kids’ feet development, especially if they are barefooted on the grass or sand. 

 In this way, children move all their limbs, learn to be more dexterous, flexible, and remain physically healthy through various activities. Plus, this way kids can come up with different games, stimulate their imagination, spend time in the fresh air, in nature, and socialize with friends.

#4 Expanding their skill set

Certain types of skill set help kids to plan, multitask, negotiate, be creative and prioritize. Those skills are often learned through play. Using imagination in different situations kids can learn how to solve problems and react to certain circumstances. 

For that reason, kids need unstructured time to learn and practice these skills. It is essential to give them time alone as well as to play with other kids. This will allow them to make up their games, determine rules and boundaries, and amuse themselves on their own. They have the chance to practice vital life skills thanks to outside play.

#5 Engage all senses

When watching TV kids use only two senses, but when they are outside, they engage in a greater range of sensory experiences. As kids grow, these encounters help them become more familiar with a variety of sensory inputs. This will improve their ability to process information.

They observe, listen, touch different things, oftentimes eat in nature, and smell different scents from those nice to those not so pleasant ones. All of this is beneficial for developing these senses properly. 

#6 Improving social skills

Through play, kids learn how to make new friends, cooperate, share, and treat others well. They will not be able to learn everything they need if they only interact in structured settings.

Playing outside or even playing different kids’ sports provides children with many physical but also social benefits. Constant interaction and playing together, even at a young age, aid children in developing important social skills, such as empathy, cooperation, and friendship. They interact with people from various backgrounds, teaching them how to have effective playdates with different kids. When they are constantly exposed to this situation, kids tend to learn how to get along with others and find common ground.

When kids are in an open space, they interact with other peers outside their friend’s group. In addition, these children normally feel less intimidated – they feel more comfortable opening up to adults after having enough space to breathe and move around.

However, the benefits of regular outside play don’t stop here. If your kid spends a lot of their time playing outside, there is a higher chance that they will be more self-aware, in addition to being aware of the feelings of others. Interesting fact, studies have shown that kids who play outside are less likely to become bullies in adulthood.

#7 Making kids independent 

Playing outside helps kids develop their sense of freedom. Although parents are typically nearby, children feel freer to play in parks than they do in other situations.

At the park, kids can experiment and explore without feeling like they are under constant parental watch. With more freedom, comes more experiments, learning their limits, and developing new games with their pals. Also, when they play certain sports like football or basketball for kids, and even individual sports like tennis, kids learn how to depend on their own. Through these discoveries, they will gain confidence that will aid them as they grow.

Spending time in the unpredictable outdoors can teach kids how to cope with both physical and emotional adversity. Many outdoor and leisure activities can educate kids to endure challenging circumstances, boosting self-assurance and individual desires. As a result, kids can overcome their worries alone.

#8 Learning to take risks

While taking risks sounds pretty scary for parents, kids must make them in order to be more capable and dexterous. However, we want our kids to be safe. They may not have the confidence and courage to face life’s inevitable risks if we keep them in bubbles and never let them take any risks. 

For that reason, unstructured outdoor play is great for trying new things and taking risks. They will consequently feel a variety of emotions in response to their achievements and setbacks.  Kids can now manage and understand their emotions thanks to this new skill. Unfortunately, kids who lack this emotional control often act out emotionally and physically. However, those who have practiced emotional regulation learn to resolve conflicts calmly and politely.

Scratching, bruises, tripping, falling, and even fights among peers are an essential part of playing outside and exploring the world. Learning from failure is just as important as learning from success.

#9 Greater self-awareness

Another great benefit of playing outside is developing a sense of self-awareness. These kids are likely to develop observational skills as well as reasoning abilities. Just being outside and out of their comfort zone, allows kids to experience the world from different perspectives. By pushing them on a swing, they learn principles like cause and effect and awareness of the space they’re in.

#10 Improving mental health

Outdoor play has a significant impact on kids’ mental and psychological health. Accordingly, early exposure to nature and fresh air is related to longer-term improvement in mental health. Kids can mentally rest and experience stress reduction when they spend time in nature, which improves their attention span and concentration. This is especially important when your little one feels stressed. Taking them outside to play and giving them time in a soothing environment to reenergize their minds is the best way to feel connected again. 

In Conclusion About Outdoor Play for Kids

The benefits of outdoor play for kids are numerous as you can see. Kids will have better physical development, they will have stronger mental capabilities, they will understand the principles of nature and learn to respect them, and of course, they learn how to socialize in different group settings. 

We tried to cover each benefit that crossed our minds as parents. However, if you think that we might miss something, we will gladly hear from you! 



  • Petra Moskatelo

    Petra is the main editor and writer here at Footmeter. She is passionate about helping people find the right solution. She holds a university Master's degree in pedagogy, and she knows a lot about children and learning.