Why is outdoor Play Important?

Outdoor play doesn’t just improve health through exercise, though that’s certainly a valuable benefit. For children, it also helps develop small and large motor skills, challenges their physical and emotional capabilities, and teaches them to appreciate and feel comfortable in nature. Play provides opportunities to explore concepts related to math, science, and language, as well as develop creativity and problem solving. Studies show that outdoor play can improve everything from test scores and sleep quality to fruit and vegetable consumption and social skills.

But outside time isn’t just for kids: For adults, it can mean improved short term memory, reduced stress levels, lower blood pressure — even improved vision and mental health. See below for a list of resources illustrating why everyone needs to get outside.



6 reasons children need to play outside” — Harvard Medical School

Articles for Families on Nature and the Outdoors — National Association for the Education of Young Children

Benefits for Early Years of Learning Outside the Classroom” — Council for Learning Outside the Classroom

The benefits of outdoor play for children” — National Childbirth Trust (UK)

Children Who Play Outdoors Are More Likely To Protect Nature As Adults” — Forbes 2017“Getting back to the great outdoors” — American Psychological Association

Is Recess Important for Kids or a Waste of Time? Here’s What the Research Says” — Time Magazine 2017

The importance of outdoor play for young children's healthy development” Porto Biomedical Journal 2017

The Importance of Recess: Why Schools Need More Playtime” — Rasmussen College 2018

Kids do not spend nearly enough time outside. Here’s how (and why) to change that.” — Washington Post 2017

New report highlights the importance of outdoor play” — National Geographic 2019

Outdoor play is a big part of healthy growth, learning, development and wellbeing for your child” — RaisingChildren.Net

Play Time Supports Cognitive and Social Development That Lasts Into Adulthood” — Urban Child Institute

Recess Pages, American Association for the Child’s Right to Play

Recess Rules Report — Robert Wood Johnson Foundation 2007

Writing Prescriptions to Play Outdoors” — New York Times 2018

Yay for Recess: Pediatricians Say It’s as Important as Math or Reading” — Time Magazine 2012


12 science-backed reasons to spend more time outdoors” — Business Insider 2018"

How Walking in Nature Changes the Brain” — New York Times 2015

It's official -- spending time outside is good for you” — Science Daily 2018

Spend Time in Nature to Reduce Stress and Anxiety” — American Heart Association 2018

Spending time outdoors is good for you” — Harvard Medical School 2010

Stanford researchers find mental health prescription: Nature” — Stanford 2015

This Is Your Brain on Nature” — National Geographic 2016

What Green Spaces Can Do to Your Mood” — Time 2017

Why Adults Should Get Out and Play” - University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health 2016

Why Connecting With Nature Elevates Your Mental Health” — Psychology Today 2018