Importance of outdoor recreation in children and adolescents

Quarantines have prevented minors from enjoying something as central to childhood as playing, interacting with other children, running, and practicing outdoor recreation. Confinement has made them increase the use of screens (TV, computers, video games) and sedentary lifestyle.

Physical activity, play, and time for outdoor recreation are essential in the growth and development process of children and adolescents, because it allows them to adopt healthier lifestyles in the future, and also because it helps their mental health and cognitive development.

“In younger children, play and contact with nature allow, especially, to advance in the development of motor skills such as jumping, going up and down stairs or improving their balance. In addition, they learn through exploration and experimentation”, explains Dr. Keryma Acevedo, a childhood and adolescence neurologist.

How is a tree, flower, or dog? How does hot or cold feel? These are questions that cannot be answered, explained, or learned only through books or videos. By nature, the human being is a social being that needs interaction with his peers. “Children under 4 years of age have difficulty transferring experiences in two dimensions, from screens to reality and that is why experience is so important. And in the case of the older children, forced confinement has had an impact on their mental health, manifesting itself in anxiety, restlessness or sleep disorders”, adds Dr. María Ángeles Beytía, a childhood and adolescence neurologist.

The school stage allows them to build bonds of friendship, at school they are allowed to learn to share and work in groups, in addition to becoming more autonomous and aware of their emotions, which prepares them for the challenges of adolescence and adulthood.

Going out with the children will help them release tension, be physically active, and enjoy outdoor recreation. In this period when girls, boys, and adolescents start dating, it is important to consider:

Girls And Boys Under 4 Years

Necessity outdoor recreation

Some suggestions to familiarize them with masks:

  • Play at home to wear a mask or face shield, they can be decorated with colors or stickers to make it something entertaining and non-threatening.
  • Put the mask on your favorite doll or teddy bear.
  • Show them photos of children wearing masks or paint children wearing them.

“It is important to stimulate motor and coordination activities: walking, running, going up and down steps, riding and using tricycles. They can do some circuits of physical activity that include: running, squatting, and jumping. It is important to explore and show nature, for example, looking for insects under rocks, recognizing different plants, and playing with the ground,” adds Dr. Acevedo.

An idea to play with them, they can go out with a tube of toilet paper and use it as a spyglass to observe the city. Likewise, some games that parents can play with their children are the treasure hunt, the “frozen”, “big monkey” or “when caught”.

Girls And Boys From 5 To 13 Years Old:

  • Encourage exercise in them such as riding a bicycle, using a scooter, or skates (always with a helmet). They can also run or jump.
  • That they talk with other girls or boys, either by video calls or outdoors with the corresponding physical distance.
  • Scratch with chalk in the streets.
  • Play with a ball while keeping a distance from other children.
  • Parents can go out together with a blanket and read outdoors or have a small picnic with family members. Ideally, choose books that talk about nature.
  • Play to memorize characteristics of nearby buildings or play “I see, I see”.


  • Although they are allowed to go out alone, ideally their plans are shared with their parents or carers.
  • It is important to talk with them to reinforce the importance of self-care and social distancing measures to prevent new infections.
  • It is an age in which they build their autonomy and personality, so they should be guided to use this opportunity carefully to reconnect with their friends and with nature.
  • Exercising outdoors or just going for a walk.
  • Do not hold meetings in larger groups or with many people.
  • Avoid activities with food, where the masks can be removed.

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Post Author: Thomas