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Why It's Good for Your Kids to "Go Outside and Play!"

The ideas and suggestions written below are provided for general educational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice or care. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health provider before beginning any physical fitness or health- and nutrition-related activity.

It’s no secret that the past year and a half or so has offered an abundance of “indoor time.” We’ve tried all the bread recipes, learned all the viral dances, and assembled all the puzzles. We stretched the limits of screen time. Put simply, we are ready to get outside.

And that’s a good thing because outside play is good for a lot more than just getting the kids out from under your feet — although we shouldn’t downplay that benefit! Multiple studies have demonstrated the many benefits of outdoor play. When kids play outside, they improve both gross and fine motor skills, get Vitamin D, and use their imagination to explore the world around them. Plus they develop skills that positively impact their reading and writing abilities.

Ready for your kids to take it outdoors? Here are some ideas for how to supercharge their outside play.

Kids playing in a treehouse outside

Let Them Make The Rules

When kids are out in the fresh air, the chances to expand their imaginations are practically limitless. Research suggests that older children are more focused and productive in the classroom when outside play is built into the school day. And it’s more than just a brain break. When kids play outside, they foster their organizational abilities, develop their decision-making skills, and build confidence in their autonomy — all often overlooked but important aspects of growing up.

Make the most of these benefits by encouraging kids to lead their own play. When they invent a game, they’re devising rules and crafting solutions in a hands-on way. Let kids make up an outside game with whatever rules they want (within reason), and watch their creativity blossom — even when they’re back indoors.

Fuel Their Imagination

One of the primary benefits of outside play is that outdoor spaces act as a kind of blank slate where kids can dream up the most imaginative scenarios. Without screens or toys, a puddle becomes an enchanted lake. A leaf morphs into a pirate ship. A tree turns into a … well, whatever a tree could turn into. (See? Kids are the ones with the pure, uncut imagination!)

Of course, all that digging and building and climbing to create a new universe requires some serious energy. You’ll want to keep your kids fueled up with snacks like CLIF Kid Zbar®. They’re packed with the wholesome ingredients kids need to magically transform a picnic bench into superhero HQ. CLIF Kid Zbar is made with energizing whole grains from organic oats in delicious flavors kids love. Think of these snack bars as imagination fuel!

Encourage The Possibilities

Outside play is directly linked with a child’s physical strength, motor coordination, and ability to fight off illness, and the benefits to their growing bodies remain consistent. When kids play outside, they have more freedom to do things like run at top speed, climb playscapes, and swing from their arms, boosting their cardiovascular systems and developing their motor skills.

Of course, some kids aren’t naturally inclined toward running around and may need a little encouragement to get their hearts pumping. One way to do that is to help them find peers to play with outdoors. Research suggests that kids get more exercise when their outside play happens with siblings or friends. Kids play differently at nine than they do at two, so older kids may be more into organized activities like team sports.

While it’s important that we provide kids with access to safe outdoor play spaces, the real magic happens when we step back and just let them play, without adult interference. Sure, you’ve got to keep an eye on them to make sure the Viking battlefield doesn’t get a little too real, but unstructured free play is the good stuff. It’s where kids can be kids. It’s where they’re free to see the amazing in the everyday.

Keep your kids going and growing with the CLIF Kid Zbar. It’s a delicious, whole grain energy bar for active kids, and they’ve got the taste and texture kids love. They’re sized for little hands and made with delicious, wholesome ingredients and organic oats. These bars are crafted to keep kids going, growing, and exploring — whether they’re on the field or on the move, fueling the best of what’s to come.