Well-intentioned people have taught us that letting kids play outdoors in the cold will cause them to get sick. But with the proper clothing, playing in the cold is not only okay, but can actually promote a healthy immune system! There are plenty of ways to get active outside in a safe and fun way.
It is true that sickness tends to spread in the colder seasons, but the reason is that viruses and bacteria cultivate inside, where we’re all cuddled up escaping the weather. Staying inside actually exposes us to more harmful germs than the colder weather outside. Also, getting some fresh air after being cooped up inside is beneficial for everyone. Studies have shown that children that are outside more often build stronger immune systems and are less prone to allergies. Getting children outside for some active time can help them grow physically, promote a healthy immune system and keep them happy through the winter season.
A key component to winter play is layers. Layer your child so they stay warm, but can easily take off an extra shirt if they sweat from all the activity. This is a great way for them to adjust to the elements. Don’t forget a hat and gloves, as their little bodies release body heat faster than adults. Much like playing in any other season, if children are wearing appropriate clothing and are in a safe environment, getting physically active outside has tremendous benefits.
Outdoor play is essential in a child’s physical, social and emotional development. Children use their full body to play, which supports the development of their gross and fine motor skills and benefits their overall health. Outdoor play also promotes confidence, problem-solving and independence that build children’s character. Socially, outdoor play stretches children to collaborate and compromise with friends, both building relationships and teaching them how to work in a team. As long as the weather isn’t too extreme, the benefits of outdoor winter play are extraordinary.
Like all things, there are limits to when we should be outside. As a general rule of thumb, children are fine to be outside in temperatures as low as 32 degrees Fahrenheit (or a wind chill of 32 degrees). As long as you are aware of safety precautions, dress appropriately for the weather, and don’t stay out too long, you and your child can make the most of the winter season!