Playing on a swing set can bring many health benefit for kids. Most adults probably have fond memories of their time spent on the local swing sets of their youth. From the first time our parents took us on a park outing, to our last game of tag before school gets out for the summer, a swing set plays a pivotal part in every childhood.
Playgrounds provide a unique and special learning environment for children of all ages, nationalities, or social economic status. Unfortunately we live, in a world where many schools are cutting back on the allotted time for recess. With the looming threat of injury on the playground and fear of liability, many schools are eliminating their swing sets all together. As the age of technology blooms, some parents are opting to buy gaming systems for their kids instead of swing sets. It is somehow easier to teach them to kick a soccer ball on the Xbox than out at the local parks. Because of this, children are missing out on valuable time to learn physical, emotional, and lasting life lessons. This article will outline a few of the many health benefits children can find on a swing set.
The first benefit that comes to mind, is the many physical benefits that come from playing on a swing set. There are many varieties of equipment found on swing sets. Creating maximum opportunities for kids to practice many different physical developments. Kids use the equipment to engage in grasping, climbing, jumping, sliding, pushing, pulling, turning and more. Monkey bars focus on upper body strength while, pushing off the ground on a seesaw requires leg muscles. Encouraging your child to play with all the equipment on the swing set provides a fun solution for kids to get a full body workout.
Child obesity rates in the United States continue to climb. Getting children outside and moving greatly aids in their cardiovascular health. When children play hard enough to get their hearts pumping, it increases blood circulation throughout their body. Healthy circulatory systems bring much needed oxygen, water, and glucose to all areas of their bodies. Maybe most importantly, it brings oxygen, water and glucose to the brain. Daily exercise at a young age, encourages lifelong healthy habits that can have benefits long into adulthood.
Motor Skill Development
Kids can begin to develop their gross motor skills at just a few months old. By the time they are three to five years old these motor skills can be crucial developmental milestones in their learning processes. Large motor skills are especially honed on a swing set, like learning to pump your legs together to make a swing move. Figuring out how to balance while crossing a rope bridge or the coordination it takes to alternate your arms to cross the monkey bars can help kids gain confidence in their physical abilities.
Albert Einstein said that “Play is the highest form of research”. What better setting for a laboratory, than a swing set in your own backyard? Playing on a swing set can stimulate memory skills, problem solving, and spatial awareness. Kids can perform their own “experiments” of trial and error as they practice what makes their play successful. How hard do I have to pump my legs to get the swings to go higher? Why was I able to climb the rock wall last time, but was unsuccessful this time? On a swing set kids are allowed to figure things out on their own terms and in a fun setting. They may often not even realize they are “learning”.
Another great benefit of swing sets is their ability to help children develop creativity and their imagination. While nearly everything these days is available for instant download, or live streaming, kids are depending on their screens more and more for entertainment. I was stunned when I discovered there are whole Youtube channels dedicated for kids to watch other kids play with toys, instead of getting out and playing with new toys themselves. Swing sets encourage children to try new things, by using old equipment in new ways. Swing sets provide endless hours of imaginative play for kids. There is no right or wrong way to play on a swing set. Kids can use their imaginations to transform a simple slide into a secret hideout from bandits. A set of monkey bars becomes the entrance to a far away castle. On a swing set kids imaginations are encouraged to run wild. Getting kids off screens and outdoors has great benefits, and may even help produce our next generation of creative engineers or entrepreneurs.
As mentioned earlier, swing sets can benefits all kinds of kids. It doesn’t matter your gender, race, socioeconomic status, all kids benefit from outdoor play. Kids are exposed to all different kinds of people and ideas when playing on a swing set. Public swing sets and playgrounds become one of the few places where children from different neighborhoods or schools can meet and interact. When playing together kids are learning social skills like cooperative play, taking turns, conflict resolution, and common courtesy. Often times the games played on a swing set are less about “winning” and “losing” and more about using teamwork to achieve a goal. This kind of play can boost confidence in kids. Such group play can teach them to look outside of their own selves and to examine the needs of others. Not to mention the skill of introducing yourself to others and making new friends is a difficult skill to learn, even for adults, and the playground offers a safe place for kids to practice.
Brings Kids Closer to Nature
In a day and age where it is easier and easier to go days without leaving the house, or even going outside, a swing set becomes a great tool to encourage kids to play outdoors. Getting kids out into the fresh air can actually benefit them even after they venture back indoors. Studies have shown that kids who spend less time in front of screens have less strain on their eyes, lower rates of ADHD, and lower stress levels. Increased outdoor play also allows children to be exposed to the sun, which leads the body to produce Vitamin D. Exposure to sunlight also helps regulate a child’s biological clock, helping them wake up and fall asleep on a more natural schedule.
There are many health benefits available for kids when they play on a swing set. Kids can benefit physically, emotionally, mentally, and socially from skills they gain while playing. So try and find time each day to get your kids outside and playing on a swing set. You can check local parks, school yards, or even set up your own swing set in your backyard. Happy playing!
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