Physical Health Benefits
Increased oxygen levels outside increase brain function. Increased gross motor movement reduces the chance of obesity and increases bone density in turn reducing the chances of osteoporosis. Sunlight increases Vitamin D production and increases resilience to illness.
Mental Health Benefits
Spending time in green spaces reduces cortisol (a stress chemical) levels in the brain and therefore has a calming influence. The reduction in cortisol also increases receptivity for building neural pathways (learning) in the brain.
Research suggests that in natural play areas the leaders tend to be the most intelligent and imaginative. When playing outside, communication, team building and language skills are developed.
Due to the calming effect on the brain and the increas in physical space outside, improved behaviour is often noticed. Research is taking place into ADHD and the outdoors, as ADHD symptoms are not as apparent when children are playing in a natural space.
Playing outside allows children to learn about risk assessment and risk taking. Children that are exposed to acceptable levels of risk at a young age are less likely to make bad judgements in the future.