Why Do Children Need Fresh Air and Sunlight?

children-need-fresh-air-sunlight Credit: Alistair Berg/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Spending time outdoors in fresh air and sunlight helps children succeed in school, lowers their stress levels and results in fewer symptoms of ADHD, according to Prevention magazine. Being outside also leads to better socialization and greater amounts of exercise, which bring physical and mental health benefits.

The National Wildlife Federation points out that children who spend time outside demonstrate longer attention spans and are thus able to perform better at school, getting measurably better grades. Children who spend time in fresh air and sunlight show a lower need for medications to treat depression or hyperactivity; even spending time in a city on a tree-lined street produces this result. Children who spend time outdoors also improve their people skills, as outdoor play causes them to relate to each other directly and use their imaginations to play.

Playing outside also provides many physical benefits. Vitamin D, which the body synthesizes from sunlight, protects bones and decreases the risks of certain cancers. Outdoor play is also more physically demanding than spending time inside and helps children stay fit, decreasing their risk of diabetes and childhood obesity and adding 3 to 5 years to their life expectancy. In addition, children who spend time outside show a decreased risk of nearsightedness.