Why Green Exercise May Be Beneficial for Children

published Jun 26, 2024
2 min read

Kids can find ways to have fun no matter where they are. However, spending more time outside could be in your child’s best interest. Learn why green exercise may benefit children to better understand the potential power of adding more outdoor fun to your family’s daily routine.

What Is Green Exercise?

Green exercise is any physical activity that occurs in natural settings surrounded by greenery, such as plants and trees. It can happen in a backyard, a public playground, a sports field or a schoolyard. Kids only need to increase their heart rates with physical movement to participate in green exercise.

Forms of Green Exercise

The best part about green exercise is how it’s easy to customize according to your child’s interests. If your little one falls in love with basketball, they’re participating like their best friend who looks forward to evening walks with their family. Other activities could include:

  • Biking with friends
  • Running around the yard playing make-believe
  • Doing hopscotch on the driveway
  • Swimming at the community pool
  • Swinging on the playground

As long as your kids are moving, they could start gaining numerous benefits of outdoor play for youth. They only need to get their heart rates up and spend time outside to add green exercise to their daily routine.

Potential Benefits of Green Exercise for Children

Young people can increase their heart rates indoors, but it may not be the same as getting active outside. These are the potential benefits of green exercise for kids who enjoy it regularly. Consider if your children would enjoy these potential mental and physical health boosts before finding fun activities to get them moving.

1. They May Experience Less Anxiety

Fresh air, sunshine and the sounds of nature aren’t just relaxing. Spending more time outside may also decrease anxiety when the surroundings ease stress. Research shows that 58% of young people experienced anxiety in 2023, so playing outside could help your kids if they frequently feel anxious.

2. They Could Improve Their Motor Abilities

Motor abilities are the ability to move muscles for a specific purpose. Kids develop this skill throughout their childhood, but green exercise might assist your child’s development more than spending time on screens.

Activities like swinging on monkey bars require purposefully controlled movements, which hone motor abilities in kids of all ages. Operating playground equipment, competing in sports and running around with friends are all excellent ways for your children to practice and potentially improve their motor skills.

3. They Might Protect Their Self-Esteem

Social media is a standard part of daily life. Your kids might be among the many young people who have accounts on numerous platforms, either with or without parental controls activated. Seeing posts and reading comments may influence their sense of self, which often begins to develop around age 10 while they’re still preadolescents.

When your children spend most of their time inside, they’re around more technology. It’s much easier to pass the hours online rather than consider going outside. If your little ones start enjoying more green exercise, they’ll have fun without being in digital spaces that could otherwise deteriorate their self-esteem with negative posts.

4. They Could Get More Vitamin D

The body produces vitamin D when sunshine meets skin cells due to ultraviolet (UV) exposure. Kids can take daily vitamins designed for their growing bodies, but not all families can afford supplements or eat healthy food at every meal. You don’t have to feel pressured to keep up with their daily doses when green exercise might boost their vitamin production.

Young people enjoying green exercise may get more sunshine exposure than their less active peers. It’s an easy way to potentially increase their vitamin D production if they don’t already get enough of it through their diet. However, it’s important to note that too much UV exposure leads to sunburns, so you may need to enforce sunscreen applications before your kids spend extended periods outside.

5. They May Prevent Vision Impairment

Everyone’s vision health depends on multiple factors, such as family genetic history. Although there’s no guaranteed way to ensure your kids have perfect sight throughout their lives, they may have better long-term vision if they play outdoors.

Researchers found that children who played indoors more often during their childhood had higher risks of myopia as young adults. Those who played outside had less risk. Your kids could potentially keep their eyes healthier if you add more green exercise to your family’s routine instead of staring at screens and getting less sunlight.

6. They Might Develop a Passion for Physical Activity

It’s challenging to imagine all the ways to have fun outside if you spend every day indoors. Kids who enjoy more green exercise could figure out what physical activities they love and become motivated to skip their screen time.

Your curiosity about the numerous benefits of outdoor play for youth may help your little ones become active outside well into the future. Green spaces in schoolyards significantly increased physical activity for young girls and moderately increased physical activity for young boys. It could help your children form new passions for make-believe on the playground or organized sports that guide their personal development as they grow up.

Enjoy the Outdoors More Often

Your kids could enjoy numerous benefits of green exercise if they get moving outside. Once they learn to use their imagination under the sun and find which sports they love to play, they might experience these physical and mental health benefits as they grow up.