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6 reasons children need to play outside

October 27, 2020

About the Author

photo of Claire McCarthy, MD

Claire McCarthy, MD, Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Claire McCarthy, MD, is a primary care pediatrician at Boston Children’s Hospital, and an assistant professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. In addition to being a senior faculty editor for Harvard Health Publishing, Dr. McCarthy … See Full Bio
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June 25, 2018

Hey Claire,
Thank you for this blog! Play is lots of fun for a child. I agree to your words “make sure he spends plenty of time playing outside”. But as Michael stated outdoor play with friends has reduced over 50% because of the evolution in technology. Screen time is gradually increasing nowadays than the outside world interaction, so we parents should aware of the fact that there is no better substitute for human interaction. I also read a blog:
The blog looked at play in a generic way and not just outdoor play.
Other than the benefits that you have listed, play contributes more in child’s development that includes:
· Play is important to a child’s healthy brain development
· Play allows children to express, and learn about feelings
· Parents can improve their relationships with their children by learning how to play with them in a specific way using selected toys
· Play contributes to language and social skills, like cooperation and compromise
· Independence and emotional resilience of a child can improve through play.

Michael Follett
May 29, 2018

Thanks for the article – the more voices for the importance of play the better.

OPAL Outdoor Play and Learning is a not for profit dedicated to ensuring all elementary and primary school children have an hours high quality play opportunity every school day. Changes in society have meant outdoor free play with friends has all but disappeared for over 50% of children.
Here is the latest research form Rearson University Toronto into the impact of OAL’s work in Canada
OPAL is currently working to improve play in school across the UK. and Canada and also has projects across Europe, New Zealand and Australia

Dr. Lía A. Roth
May 23, 2018

Another reason for playing outdoors has to do with sight development.

May 23, 2018

A terrific article. Here are more facts you should know about sun exposure:
Worldwide, the use of sunscreen increases each year, and the risk of melanoma increases in lockstep. In addition, each year we get less sun exposure due to indoor lifestyles, and the risk of melanoma rises again. Why can we not learn that sun deprivation is the problem, not sun exposure, which is vital to human health? Here are some additional insights into the health benefits of sun exposure:
•75% of all melanomas occur on areas of the body that are seldom or never exposed to the sun.
•Women who actively seek the sun have half the risk of death of those who avoid the sun.
•A Spanish study shows that women who seek the sun have one-eleventh the hip-fracture risk as those who avoid sun.
•Men who work outdoors have half the risk of melanoma as those who work indoors.
•Women who avoid the sun have 10-times the risk of breast cancer as those who embrace the sun.
•Women who sunbathe regularly have half the risk of death during a 20-year period compared to those who stay indoors.
•Sun exposure increases nitric oxide production, which leads to a decrease in heart disease risk.
•Sun exposure dramatically improves mood through the production of serotonin and endorphin.
•Sun exposure increases the production of BDNF, essential to a properly functioning nervous system.
For more information:

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