Why Kids should play outside this winter
January 20, 2015  |  Written by Carlota Nelson

Even if it´s cold outside, don´t let that keep you in. Children need to play outdoors, even during the winter months. For those of you who believe they´ll catch a cold or the flu, keep reading. You’ll be surprised to learn that being outside and in contact with nature actually helps the build their immune system and much more. Discover all the advantages that playing outdoors, engaged in non-structured activities are the best thing they can do. Just make sure they´re bundled up and ready.

Advantages of playing outdoors in the winter

Strengthens their Immune System. Did you know children who are raised on farms or in the countryside get colds or the flu less often? And that being in contact with bacteria, earth, animals and insects on a regular basis, helps them strengthen their immune system? According the American Academy of Paediatrics, “Cold weather does not cause colds or flu. The viruses that cause colds and flu tend to be more common in the winter, when children are in school and are in closer contact with each other.” The Academy recommends frequent hand washing and teaching our children to cover their mouth when sneezing or coughing.

A Good Dose of Vitamin D. Vitamin D, supplied by the sun, helps boost good moods, increases levels of energy and memory. Experts recommend being exposed to the sun 15 minutes a day in order to be supplied with the necessary dose of vitamin D. Remember to apply sunblock and have children wear sunglasses if it´s a sunny day, even during the winter.

Improves problem solving. Whether it´s making a snowman or playing hide and go seek in a forest, children are busy solving problems. What do I need to make a snowman? What natural elements can supply me with its nose, mouth and eyes? How can I make snowballs of different sizes? If I add water, will the snow become harder?

Boosts their Independence. In a study by the University of Colorado, Boulder, published by Frontiers in Psychology, experts point out that children who spend more time doing non structured activities (playing outdoors, riding a bike or visiting the zoo, for example) have the capacity to establish goals and see them through, independently.

Exercise. We know that physical exercise is crucial for our children’s growth and development and that the physical and social benefits they obtain from exercising include better balance, self-esteem and team work, among others. If you haven´t had the chance to read our post titled “My Children don´t exercise” we encourage you to do so you can discover how to get your children to have fun while integrating sports and exercise in their daily life.


Children already have too many structured activities (these include extra curricular classes) and they need time off for free play. This allows them to explore their creative side, use their imagination and develop their own sense of Independence.

Researchers E. Jones and G. Reynolds, believe “children learn the most important things in life, not from what we tell them, but from how they resolve and interact with the physical world and other children on their own.”

Some examples of non-structured activities include a visit to the zoo, always allowing them freedom of movement, walks or hikes in the outdoors, where they can roam freely.

Advice for Parents

Even though we recommend children play outdoors in winter, parents should remember to:

  • Dress them appropriately by layering their clothes so they remain dry and warm. The rule of thumb is to have them wear an extra layer of clothes in comparison to the number of layers we, as adults, would wear.
  • Don´t forget to have them wear warm shoes or boots, gloves and a hat. Keeping the extremities warm (feet, head and hands) is a must as hypothermia begins to right there.
  • Have them come inside (the house or the car) every once in a while to warm up.
  • Avoid excessive sweating as sweat turns cold when it comes in contact with the skin and starts to evaporate.
  • Drink lots of liquids (water, juice or hot cocoa) before and after they play.
  • What outdoor plans do you have prepared for the winter? Share your experiences with us.

Photo Credits: Tony Fischer

Photo Credits: Jen´s Art and Soul


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