The mental health benefits of outdoor play

Children’s mental health week brings about this blog focus on why outdoor play is so important and the benefits it has on young people’s mental health.

Mental health statistics in young people have seen a 50% increase in the last three years. Now, around 1 in 6 children aged between 5 and 16 likely to have a mental health problem. Overstretched children’s well-being specialist services result in many children not getting the help they require. As a result, this highlights the need to make children’s well-being a priority. At Playcubed we couldn’t agree more with this statement and is the reason why we love what we do.

The mental and physical health benefits of outdoor play and the effectiveness of outdoor learning approaches is obvious. However, in many scenarios the opportunities for its use are still missed. So let us list just four reasons why regular outdoor play are paramount to children’s mental health and wellbeing;

Move and shake away anxiety

Participation in sports and physical activity lowers anxiety. So much so, experts say that physical activity allows children to have a better outlook on life by building confidence, managing anxiety and depression, and increasing self-esteem.

Take a Brain Break

Spending time outside in an un-structured environment has social and emotional benefits. Children are at their happiest when free playing outdoors, leaving the lesson plans behind and following their own imagination.

Be happy with Vitamin D

Getting a healthy amount of Vitamin D will release serotonin, which helps regulate emotion and mood and links to promoting happiness. On top of this, Vitamin D helps the body to absorb calcium which builds stronger bones.

Play mental health benefits, Playcubed, playground design

Relieve stress outdoors

Outdoor play relieves stress in children. The science for this bases around the idea that outdoor activity reduces levels of the hormone cortisol in the brain, known as the ‘stress hormone’. In fact, a study in the UK found that just five minutes of exercise in a natural outdoor environment can rapidly improve self-esteem, mental health and wellbeing in young people.

Make your school playgrounds an outdoor area the children can’t resist, why not speak to one of our playground advisors about our bespoke playground design service to make the most of your outdoor space.

“Play, as has often been the case, has been forgotten or side-lined, yet there is copious scientific evidence of its importance for development.”

Play Scotland

Make your school playgrounds an outdoor area the children can’t resist