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Happy children on snow

Embracing Winter: 6 Compelling Reasons to Let Your Kids Play Outside

Posted by Churchich Content Team Content on December 18, 2023

Winter holidays bring colder temperatures and a break from school, which can be both exciting for kids and a challenge for parents.

While keeping children entertained indoors during the winter months often requires some creative thinking, there's a simple solution to ward off cabin fever—let them play outside in the cold weather!

“Children need to play outside every day, even in winter. Going outside to run, jump, yell, and wiggle allows children to use their large muscles and work off extra energy. Moving out into the fresh air is also healthier for children than keeping them inside a closed building where germs can easily spread,” says Penn State Extension.

Just remember what British fell walker, guidebook author, and illustrator Alfred Wainwright famously said: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.”

Myth: You Will Catch a Cold from Playing Outside


Despite common misconceptions, exposure to winter chill won't make children sick – in fact, staying cooped up indoors could make them sick.

“It’s no secret that most parents blame winter air as the cause for colds and the flu. Although the viruses that cause flu and colds are more common in the winter months, the circulated air in closed environments is the main cause of your child getting sick. All of the bacteria, dirt, dander, and other germs simply get recycled through the air vents over and over,” explains the Pennsylvania Department of Health. “The more time you spend inside, the more you are exposed.”

Getting outside into the cold is a healthy move!

“Nothing is more refreshing than that first deep breath of cold, winter air before starting hours of fun with outdoor play. In fresh, outdoor air, children do not have to rebreathe the germs of the group, and the chance for spreading infection is reduced,” says the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

Bundle Up! 6 Reasons to Let Kids Play Outdoors this Winter

The benefits of outdoor winter play extend far beyond the immediate joy it brings.

Here are six compelling reasons why letting your kids play outside in the winter is not just a remedy for boredom but a pathway to enhanced well-being:

  • Immune System Resilience: Contrary to the belief that cold weather itself makes you sick, exposure to the elements strengthens the immune system. Playing outdoors exposes kids to a variety of germs, bacteria, and allergens in a natural setting, helping build resilience against illnesses and allergies. It's a proactive way to boost their immune defenses, contributing to overall health.
  • Vitamin D Boost for Mood: The winter sun may be less intense, but it remains a crucial source of Vitamin D. This essential vitamin plays a role in serotonin production, a hormone that regulates mood. Just 15 to 30 minutes of outdoor exposure can elevate serotonin levels, combating feelings of depression, stress, and anxiety. So, let your kids soak up the winter sun to keep their spirits high.
  • Physical and Mental Well-being: Establishing healthy habits early in life is crucial for long-term well-being. Encouraging outdoor play in winter promotes an active lifestyle, fostering habits that can last a lifetime. It instills a mindset of "no excuses" when it comes to enjoying fresh air and exercise, demonstrating that a little cold weather shouldn't hinder physical activity.
  • Enhanced Creativity and Imagination: Winter transforms the outdoor environment, offering a unique canvas for imaginative play. Snow-covered landscapes become a playground for creativity, encouraging kids to build snowmen, engage in winter sports, and explore the magic of the season. Outdoor play during winter sparks creativity and resourcefulness, contributing to holistic development.
  • Social Skills Development: Winter play provides opportunities for kids to interact with peers in a different context. Whether building a snow fort together or engaging in winter games, children learn valuable social skills such as cooperation, communication, and teamwork. These interactions contribute to their emotional intelligence and help them navigate social situations effectively.
  • Appreciation for Nature: Experiencing the outdoors in winter fosters an appreciation for nature's beauty in all seasons. From the serene tranquility of a snowy landscape to the crisp, invigorating air, kids develop a connection to the natural world. This connection lays the foundation for environmental awareness and a lifelong love for outdoor activities.

Remember these Tips to Keep Kids Warm and Safe Outside

This winter, break free from the confines of indoor spaces. Embrace the cold, encourage your kids to head to the local playground or park to play outside, and witness the myriad benefits unfold.

Just keep in mind these tips to keep kids warm and safe outside from the American Academy of Pediatrics:

  • Small Bodies Lose Heat Faster: Children, because they are smaller, lose heat in cold weather more quickly than adults do. Children also tend to stay longer in colder conditions because they are having fun, which can expose them to the following:
    • Frostbite: Frostbite happens when the skin, and sometimes the tissue below it, freezes. Fingers, toes, ears, and noses are most likely to get frostbite. Frostbitten skin may start to hurt or feel like it's burning, then quickly go numb. It may turn white or pale gray and form blisters.

    • Hypothermia: When the body's temperature drops below normal from the cold, dangerous hypothermia begins to set in. A child may start shivering, a sign the body is trying to warm itself up, but then become sluggish, clumsy, or slur his words.
  • To Prevent Frostbite and Hypothermia do the Following:
    • Check the wind chill: In general, playing outside in temperatures or wind chills below -15° Fahrenheit should be avoided. At these temperatures, exposed skin begins to freeze within minutes.

    • What to wear: Several thin layers will help keep kids warm and dry. Insulated boots, mittens or gloves, and a hat are essential. Make sure children change out of any wet clothes right away.

    • Take breaks: Set reasonable limits on the amount of time spent playing outside to prevent hypothermia and frostbite. Make sure kids have a place to go for regular indoor breaks to warm up.

Follow these safety tips and let your children play outside this winter -- not only will it keep cabin fever at bay, but it will also contribute to a healthier, happier lifestyle for your family.