Springing into Action

Why playing outdoors is so important for children and families.

Overlooked by the spectacular Corfe Castle and surrounded by acres of woodland, Dorset Adventure Park has been unfurling this Spring and is readying to open up once more. As primroses, wild garlic, and blue bells ring out across the Purbeck countryside, the nation begins to shake off hibernation, and we are ready for outdoor activities and adventures once more. 

Now, more than ever, is the perfect time to step outside and play. After so long cooped up indoors and stuck behind our screens, we can finally get together and there is nowhere better suited than this Dorset water park and mud trail.  

With children’s screen times exacerbated by lockdown, the very real value and benefits of being back in nature have never been more necessary or needed. A recent 2021 Guardian article observed, “the rise in children’s screen time during the pandemic has triggered calls for greater interactivity and outdoor exercise to bolster learning and guard against an epidemic of short-sightedness.” With the rise in popularity of Forest Schools, Naturally Learning Nurseries and much scientific research into the positive impact of the outdoors on children and young people, we are better equipped to counteract the damages of extensive screen time on children and families. The wellbeing of outdoor interaction impacts positively on both physical and mental health of children.

Photo by Jez Timms on Unsplash

As Scandinavian interiors and lifestyles have boomed in trend, so too has the ‘scandi’ perspective on getting outdoors and having fun in nature. ‘Friluftsliv’, is the Nordic concept of being outdoors. To this culture, it is not just an occasional treat but a necessity. It is so culturally important that most businesses provide ‘Friluftsliv’ incentives and opportunities within their work day. The notion is being mimicked by huge global brands such as Apple and Google who want to be the ‘cool’ businesses, always innovative and ahead of the curve. 

We now see a deeper understanding of the necessity of ‘Friluftsliv’ for not just grown-ups but their whole families – especially children. 

The Big Benefits

From Harvard Medical School to The Child Mind Institute, the many big benefits of being outdoors have been studied and shared. Outdoor living, adventures and activities are integral in children’s wellbeing, development and happiness. 

Some of the biggest benefits include: 

  • Socialisation – Outdoor play prompts children to be more social and interactive, not just with their surroundings but with those around them. After a year of lockdown’s, we could all do with lessons in socialising once more! With the focus on the activity, the pressure of conversing is dramatically reduced and instead a collaborative, fun and focused exercise allows conversation and communication to be instant and accessible once more. Nothing is more unifying than laughing together and the waterpark, Wibit inflatables and Dorset mud trail prompts endless hours of giggles and laughter. It is safe to be silly again. 
  • Sunshine – Even a British Summer of all weathers still gives us a great dose of vitamin D.  This vitamin is now understood to be so crucial in boasting and maintaining immune systems in adults and children. Vitamin D is integral to developing bone health in children and works to improve their immune systems further by a healthy night’s sleep from sun exposure, fresh air and exercise. A little bit of time playing in the sunshine is proven to substantially improve moods and wellbeing. The importance of which is often overlooked in children. 
  • Reduces Stress –  Studies for the Child Mind Institute revealed that “that kids who play outside are smarter, happier, more attentive, and less anxious than kids who spend more time indoors.” Exercise and activity is one of the most effective reducers of anxiety. It uses up the extra adrenaline caused by anxiety and offers both focus and distraction from internal worries and inhibitions. Outdoor activities and especially those designed at this Dorset aqua park, provide many, many moments of glee and laughter. That laughter releases the endorphins, ‘the body’s natural feel-good chemicals!’ 
  • Confidence –  Research from the University College London showed that, “four out of five children say they feel more confident in themselves after spending time participating in outdoor activities.” It allows them to assess and take risks, observe and follow other children. Their confidence grows as they succeed through different tasks, activities and obstacle courses. Even the simple act of being in nature boosted the confidence and relationships of those children during the research. 
  • Responsibility – The outdoors offer an environment where children have to take responsibility and be aware of their surroundings. At this Purbeck water park there are multiple lifeguards and monitors at each lake. However, to the child they are put in a situation of responsibility and challenge even if it is managed by adults. This opportunity for responsibility is another major contributing factor to the huge confidence boosts in children engaging in outdoor adventuring. It feeds their feelings of being trusted, respected and valued.
Photo by Meritt Thomas on Unsplash

Dorset Adventure Park will open its gates once more where you will enter and find an obstacle course on water, inflatable course, mud trail and many more adventures to be discovered. This unique Dorset theme park provides the perfect opportunity for special bonding time with your children. Challenge yourselves, overcome the obstacles, come together as a family and play! 

The aqua park is ideal for cooling off and splashing through hot days this summer and even more so for those inevitable rainy days too. As the Nordic say with their ‘Friluftsliv’, “there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.” 

So, zip up one of the wetsuits and jump on in – the water’s lovely.

Photo by Sydney Rae on Unsplash

Article by Olivia Lowry 2021

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