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Health Benefits of Playing Outdoor Games & Outside Exercise

health benefits of playing outdoor games
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As the world gets more sources for indoor entertainment (TVs, video games, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon delivery services), playing outdoor is becoming less and less frequent. As I was growing up, exercising outside and playing outdoors was a way of life. My friends and I played basketball in my driveway, football in the street, baseball at the park, and other games anywhere we could.

To this day, I still enjoy spending my free time walking with my wife and son, and exercising outdoors whenever possible.

Recent studies have consistently shown that almost half of preschool age children don’t get enough time playing outside.  In fact, some children rarely get the chance to play outside at all!

Research also revealed that this disturbing trend has its drawbacks. People who spend less time playing outdoors are at a higher risk of getting obesity, Type II diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, anxiety disorders, depression and attention deficit disorder.

Not only is this a problem for children, but it’s a problem for adults as well.

Training inside is the norm in fitness communities, but outdoor training can be just as effective, and it comes with a variety of other benefits as well.

If you want to look your best and feel as healthy as possible, exercising outside or playing outdoor games can go a long way in helping you achieve your goals.

If you are a fitness enthusiast, you may find that exercising outdoors can help you feel a lot fresher and fitter.

As an adult, outdoor play tends to help you feel more energized and imaginative. Growing children need outdoor play to stimulate their minds and keep them in shape. Spending the whole day in front of a TV screen, or inside for any reason, isn’t healthy.

Here are a few amazing benefits of exercising outdoors and playing outdoor games:

Top Health Benefits of Outdoor Games & Exercise

Playing and exercising outside is one of the best things you can do for your health. So, gather your best outdoor gear and get going, as I’ll explain the top health benefits of outdoor play and exercise for you below!

Outdoor Games Help You Develop a Strong Immune System

Children who spend a lot of time playing outdoors are likely to have stronger immune systems than their counterparts who spend a lot of time indoors. This applies to adults as well.

There is a variety of outdoor play available to both adults and children. Outdoor play gives you the opportunity to walk run, jump, climb, swim, dance, golf, and exercise muscles that you wouldn’t ordinarily workout. All these activities provide wonderful opportunities for aerobic exercises and strength training. The result is a boost of the immune system, and it is a great way to keep illness away.

Along with that, spending time outside can increase your immune system by experiencing a variety of new aspects of your environment. Over time, your body will become more acclimated to the world as a whole.

Just make sure you use an organic insect repellent if you are playing in an area with a lot of bugs!

There are a variety of ways that spending time outside by exercising or playing outdoor games will increase your immune system, these are just a couple examples.

Playing Outside is Great for Your Mental Health!

According to a study published in Frontiers in Psychology,

“There is growing evidence to suggest that exposure to natural environments can be associated with mental health benefits. Proximity to greenspace has been associated with lower levels of stress and reduced symptomology for depression and anxiety , while interacting with nature can improve cognition for children with attention deficits and individuals with depression.”

The statistics are not encouraging. More and more children and adults are being diagnosed with mental health conditions like depression and anxiety.

Refreshing air and sunlight is a proven method in improving the overall mood of a person.

As stated by a study published in Extreme Physiology & Medicine,

“Engaging in physical activity outdoors provides opportunities linked to better health which is unavailable from indoor activity, such as exposure to sunlight for sufficient vitamin D levels.”

You can rest assured that exercising outside will not only lift your mood but also provide you with well-needed sunlight, which is a major source of Vitamin D, and it will increase your health by a significant amount. Even a simple outdoor activity such as fishing can help you soak up some Vitamin D from the sun and improve your health!

The sun is the greatest provider of Vitamin D on the planet, and training outside can help you maximize the amount of Vitamin D within your body. This is an essential nutrient that we often do not get enough of.

Many people supplement with Vitamin D or eat foods high in Vitamin D if they know they are not outside a lot, and a few outdoor workouts per week can drastically help you with this vitamin!

Exercising or playing outside also increases your self esteem and confidence, thereby changing your entire mood. This makes sure that the rest of your day goes very well.

Outdoor play helps the body release endorphins and other happiness hormones that can improve the mood and boost happiness levels.

As stated by a study published in Applied Physiology: Health and Well-Being,

“The results indicate that nature provides an added value to the known benefits of physical activity. Repeated exercise in nature is, in particular, connected to better emotional well‐being.”

While it is good to improve workplace and academic performance, we must incorporate healthy relaxation habits that can improve our physical and mental health. One great way to do this is outdoor play. Enjoying yourself in an outdoor game is guaranteed to reduce stress levels.

Along with traditional forms of outdoor exercise such as walking or running, there are lots of outdoor game ideas to explore. Children can play hide and seek, tennis, capture the flag, basketball, fishing, and so on, and adults can partake in these activities or play other games such as volleyball, golf, or even paintballing.

These outdoor games can improve physical and mental health, as well as boost the emotional well-being.

Improves Your Eyesight

Research studies have shown that exposing children to too much bookwork or television, and too little outside play can cause near-sightedness.

The unnaturally bright lights from the TV screen, tablets and video game screens are bad for the eyes.

Furthermore, people who play regularly outside are exposed to adequate amounts of natural light and sunshine. It has been shown that there is a link between a lack of natural light and myopia.

According to one study,

“Playing in natural outdoor environments is beneficial for eye health. Playing in natural outdoor environments with green plants can reduce childhood myopia (nearsightedness), which has become increasingly common among young children who spend time indoors watching television, using computers, and playing video games. Playing outdoors or having prolonged light exposure may curb the development of or slow the progression of myopia in children, reducing their need for eyeglasses.

For healthy eyes, play, or exercise outside often!

Better Physical Development

Some people consider outdoor play a waste of time because it might seem frivolous to stay outside just having sun, but they are wrong in numerous ways. The body undergoes a lot of physical development every time we engage in outdoor play. This is especially true for growing children.

Here are a few ways that playing outdoors or exercising outside can improve your or your child’s physical development:

Burning More Calories

When you exercise in a natural environment, you have more space to move and more motivation to be active, which burns calories a lot faster.

Although working out indoors will also do a similar job, exercising or playing outdoors can be a lot more rewarding and faster in delivering results. When the world is your workout facility, the possibilities are endless!

Better Options for Running/Sprinting Outside

Treadmills are useful for some people, but they can also be downright bad for your joints.

Doing running drills outside is an excellent way to use the great outdoors for your physical exercise.

Outside you can also do drills such as sprint workouts on hills or stairs. Running inside can be done on a basketball court, or an indoor track; however, these options are limited.

When you are outside, you can run or sprint wherever you want!

Cheaper Than the Gym

Many people around the world claim not to go to the gym because they don’t have the money for it. While joining a gym and getting a personal trainer can be rewarding, it is also an equally expensive investment.

If you’re serious about wanting to work out, but you have limited funds, stepping outdoors is a cost-effective choice. Not only does it cost you next to nothing, you can also get more space and energy to work out in the wide and unexplored areas of your neighborhood, or whichever surrounding you pick for your exercise.

You Can Do Real Life Functional Training

Even just walking up and down your street is a functional exercise that has real-world benefits.

Training outside in the elements and environment around you is an excellent way to make sure that your training will help you in life, and not just help your body look better.

Activities such as rock climbing, hiking, kayaking, and mountain biking are outdoor workouts that will improve your physique, and help your body to become better at accomplishing real-world tasks!

Furthermore, there is a lot of research proving that those who walk over 10,000 steps per day are healthier, and many people who enjoy hiking or other outdoor sports take more steps than this each day!

Connecting With People

When you step out into your neighborhood or a park for a run and some stretching, you can meet your neighbors, friends, and loved ones as well. Grab your best friend, your sibling, or anyone really to go exercising with.

Not only does it give you more motivation but also helps you connect with people that you wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to spend quality time with.

For children, it is a great way to meet new friends.

This is yet another way that exercising outside or playing outdoors can improve your mental health as well!

Dynamic Environment

Going outdoors means looking at something new everyday. You’re bound to find at least something new when you go out, be it people or surroundings.

There may be some interesting places near you that you wouldn’t normally explore but exercising introduces you to things you’ve been aloof from otherwise.

In a life that is fast and majorly dominated by technology and sitting behind a computer screen for most of the day, connecting with nature can be quite a difficult task.

If you were to step out for a run in the morning, you can not only indulge in the sun, but also enjoy the freshness that nature brings. Although there is a lot of pollution outside these days, if you pick the right area and the right time to go out and exercise, you may find that it’s the best way to feel closer to nature.

I personally love walking around my neighborhood, especially in the summer, because there is tons of wildlife. I see a variety of birds, animals, trees, flowers, and more. All of these different things and parts of nature activate different parts of your mind.

Being outside can expand your mind and help you develop a positive connection with the world around you.

Being Outside Can Ease the Symptoms of Boredness

Training inside is great for your body since there is so much equipment you will have available to use, but it can become boring especially in the summer.

Workouts can seem dreadfully long when you are looking out at the nice summer weather!

Take your workout outside a couple times per week so you don’t feel as if you are wasting your summer in the gym, and your desire to train will certainly go up!

Types of Exercise You Can Enjoy Outdoors

Along with the various sports and outdoor games I have already mentioned above, here are a few additional types of exercise you can do outside which will bring you physical and mental health benefits:

Jumping Rope

A perfectly toned and shaped body can also be obtained by jumping rope, which is also as skipping rope.

Whenever you jump rope, every part of your body becomes active, and this also happens to be the best warm up for any kind of exercise.

To avoid monotonous jumping and for enjoying it, rope jumping can be done in various ways like singles, doubles and many others. Doing this for around 15 – 20 minutes is very beneficial for your health.

There are many jump rope workouts, so try to choose a unique one every day if possible!


Aerobics is simply physical exercise that doesn’t involve sprinting or maximal weight lifting.

Aerobic exercise forces you to move every part of your body, and it simultaneously serves the combined purpose of helping you lose weight and toning your body

One of the simplest forms of aerobic exercise is walking. For a consistent workout, try walking 3 miles per day. For an additional improvement in your body, try doing fasted cardio in the morning by walking on an empty stomach after you wake up.

Contrary to anaerobic exercise, low impact aerobic exercise is easy on your joints, but it is very beneficial for your general health, especially when done outside.

Go Trail Running

You can also opt for going trail running.

Trail running is more intense that running on a treadmill or on a road because the environment is more demanding.

Trail running also helps you explore more of nature, and you will probably see some unique things you otherwise wouldn’t.

If you want, you can also take a supplement for runners to make your workout easier.

Work As a Volunteer

When you volunteer for various activities like taking dogs out for walk can help you build some positive karma and get some exercise. It is a simple way to improve the world around you, and stay fit.

Concluding Thoughts – Benefits of Playing Outdoor Games

Outdoor games require a lot of creativity. When children regularly exercise their problem-solving skills, their classroom performance improves. Most parents remember playing outdoors. I remember my experiences and how helpful those activities were to my physical, intellectual and social development.

A lot of people train inside because they are more comfortable with this approach, but it should not be the only reason you adapt your training this way. If you want to remain inside, an inexpensive foosball table can get you up and moving in your house as well!

However, stepping out of your comfort zone and into more dynamic types of exercise can help you improve your body like you have always dreamed.


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Adam Kemp
Hello! My name is Adam Kemp. I am a professional basketball player and an ISSA Certified Personal Trainer. In 2014 I graduated from Marist College with a B.A. in Communications, and for the last seven years, I have played professional basketball in Europe. I am also an ISSA Certified Personal Trainer, and I am currently completing my Masters of Science in Nutrition Education at American University. The health and fitness tips you can find throughout the articles I have written include information I have learned throughout my basketball career, academic studies, and my own personal research. If you would like to learn more about my life, please take a moment to follow me on Instagram and Twitter.

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