Is playing outside good for children when the weather gets colder?

Now that the days are colder and shorter it can be tempting to keep children indoors rather than let them play outside. Children are often still building up their immune systems so are more susceptible to colds and other mild common illnesses, so exposure to harsh outdoor elements can easily cause illness. However, there are also many benefits to allowing children to play outdoors even when the weather gets colder. Here are the pros and cons of children playing outside when the weather gets cold.

The pros

Exposure to sunlight

Exposure to natural sunlight is the best source of vitamin D, which is important for the regulation of calcium and for helping to build strong bones and teeth. While it is easier to get healthy doses of vitamin D in summer, during autumn and winter the shorter days combined with a weaker sun, means that it is much harder to naturally reach the recommended daily amounts of vitamin D. Encouraging children to spend time outdoors on clear, sunny days during these months can help children to generate vitamin D through sun exposure throughout the year.

Remain a healthy weight

Outdoor play allows more freedom and space to move around than indoor play. This freedom and space gives children the ability to run around, which is vital for not only helping children to increase their fitness levels but also maintain a healthy weight. Children of all ages need to be active throughout the day to ensure that they get the right amount of exercise they need to maintain a healthy BMI, which will reduce the chances of them having health problems not only in childhood but also as they get older.

Burn off energy

Children naturally have a lot of energy that they need to burn off in a healthy way. Doing this enables them to focus during lessons, helps them to sleep better at night and ultimately results in them more likely to be better behaved. If children are cooped up indoors for long periods of time without a chance to burn off their excess energy this can lead to them unable to cope with feeling too energetic to settle. Enabling children to play outdoors gives them the chance to run around, be noisy and play, all of which makes sure that they burn off energy in a healthy and productive way.

Cons

Prone to illness

Children tend to have weaker immune systems than adults, which means that they are more prone to getting mild illnesses such as colds. When the temperate drops, the cold weather can mean that children are more likely to catch the illnesses around. If, however, children are dressed appropriately for the cold weather the colder temperatures should not impact their health.

Shorter days

It can be difficult to allow children to play outside during autumn and winter due to the shorter days and often when they get home from school it is already starting to get dark outside. This is why it is important to ensure children make use of their time during school breaks to play outside. Having playground equipment that encourages children to be active outside during their breaks is ideal for making the most of the winter daylight. Weekends are also a great time to make use of daylight. Taking children to parks, going for family cycle rides or simply encouraging children to play in the garden, all help to ensure children are able to be active outdoors during short daylight hours.