The Importance of Outdoor Play Time

With the onset of winter approaching, it is timely to focus on the importance of children playing outdoors. As the temperature drops, it is even more important to ensure that our children are dressed appropriately by providing boots, hats, mittens, scarves, winter coats and snow pants so they can enjoy the fresh air. While on the outside playground, the educators will provide vigorous activities in order to keep them warm. Having a positive attitude in regards to being outdoors will help the children foster excitement as they explore and play together. It may seem that your child has one cold after another and a common myth is that going outside will cause your child to become ill. Colds and flu are caused by viruses that are spread from person to person by airborne droplets, direct contact and indirect contact through contaminated surfaces. Young children have yet to build their immunity to these viruses which is why they become ill more often. By keeping windows closed and spending more time indoors to escape the colder temperatures, the ventilation systems inside recirculate the germs and increase the chances of becoming ill. Getting a breath of fresh air can increase our body’s ability to ward off infections. A new theory is that decreased vitamin D levels in the winter increases our susceptibility to infections. Because vitamin D is produced by the body in reaction to sun exposure, our vitamin D levels drop when our skin is covered and we spend less time outside. In order to prevent this from happening, children and adults can drink more milk, take a vitamin D supplement and spend more time outdoors. The best prevention for illness is to wash your hands frequently, teach children to use tissues, to sneeze or cough into their sleeves and to spend more time outside, breathing the fresh air.

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