The Benefits of Physical Play

Physical play constitutes activities where a child swings, spins, jumps and climbs. Most people know this type of play is important for children because it makes them physically fit and keeps them healthier. Specifically, when participating in physical play activities, children increase muscle strength and endurance, strengthen their bones and boost their metabolism. They also refine and develop their motor fitness skills, including speed, agility, power, coordination and balance.

What might be news to many is that the benefits of physical play go much further than just building muscles and burning calories — it helps develop the brain, regulate anxiety and teaches various important skills.

The Benefits of Physical Play

When a child explores a playground, it’s about more than having fun. They can help their bodies and minds develop as they navigate various equipment and play games with other children. Kids of all ages can use play as a way to keep their bodies healthy and establish a positive association with exercise.

Health Benefits

As kids grow, their bodies grow and develop with them. During this time, physical play can help keep their bodies healthy, from boosting general mobility to reducing the risk of diseases like obesity and type 2 diabetes. Physical play encourages children to exercise and use all parts of their bodies. Some health benefits of physical play include:

  • Strengthening bones: Physical activities can help strengthen kids’ bones. Bones strengthen with the more force they receive, and building strong bones in childhood can help prevent diseases like osteoporosis in adulthood. Activities like jumping and dancing can help kids grow healthy, strong bones on the playground.
  • Balancing: Kids can use physical play to develop their balancing and coordination skills. Jumping helps children to recognize where their body is in space, and all of the sensory input of sliding helps develop a child’s ability to motor plan. Spinning stimulates different parts of the brain, which can help the brain develop and build neural pathways. This development can help with learning potential, spatial awareness and more.
  • Increasing motor skills: Like with balance and coordination, physical play can help give children more control over their bodies. When kids use playground equipment — like monkey bars — or play together, they can refine their movement for increased control over their actions. Walking and jumping provide opportunities to practice and master skills vital for independent movement.
  • Improving flexibility: When kids play, they can increase their average range of motion and stretch their muscles. When they swing on the monkey bars, reach for friends and cartwheel, kids can naturally stretch as they play, helping increase their flexibility.

Physical play can help establish healthy bodies in children and can help lower the chance of getting some diseases in adolescence and adulthood. However, playtime can also help develop various muscles and parts of the brain and increase their control over their movements and actions.

Developmental Benefits

Physical activity like playing on the playground can impact mental health as well. When kids exercise regularly through play, they can reduce depression and anxiety and increase their self-confidence. Activities like rocking and swinging have a calming effect and can help regulate anxiety. This benefit allows kids to care for their minds as well as their bodies.

Kids who exercise through play can experience increased academic performance and critical thinking abilities. Kids can focus better when they can regularly play and exercise, allowing them to pay attention in school. Further, exercise in children can lead to increased problem-solving skills. Activities like climbing can help children practice important cognitive skills such as memory, problem-solving and visualization.

Playtime is a great opportunity for many children to practice and build essential social skills. Playgrounds are gathering places for people of different backgrounds, allowing children to learn how to communicate and empathize with other children their age. They can practice teamwork and active listening when they play together, which they can apply to other situations, like school.

Encouraging Physical Play on the Playground

The benefits of physical play are so crucial to a child’s development that it is imperative playground designers ensure children of all abilities have the opportunity to spin, slide, roll, swing, climb and jump. Playworld’s Inclusive Play Design Guide is full of ideas for selecting playground equipment and making adaptations that help a designer meet this goal.

Here are a few ideas to incorporate in your playground design:

  • Select different pieces of equipment that allow users to lay or sit on them in addition to standing.
  • Choose pieces of equipment that offer more support — handrails, back supports, etc.
  • Include a variety of commercial playground equipment in both type and size. With swings include a toddler swing, a tire swing, a belt swing and an accessible swing seat.
  • Place some of the equipment, such as a balance beam or crawl tunnel, as close to the ground as possible.
  • Provide extra room around equipment so that children using wheelchairs can easily access the equipment.
  • Include pieces of equipment where a child who uses a wheelchair does not need to leave their chair to participate in the play, like the Aeroglider by Playworld.

There are many more ideas included in the Inclusive Play Design Guide. You can download a free copy of the Guide to incorporate ideas that will best fit what you have planned for your playground and the kids that will use it. What ideas do you have to ensure that all children have the chance to play on a playground?

Inspire Physical Play With Playground Equipment From Playworld

Physical play is an important way that children can exercise, helping them to build strong bones and muscles. However, play can lead to important cognitive and mental health benefits as well, so designing a playground that encourages physical play is essential for childhood development.

Playworld can help you explore the benefits of physical play on the playground. Our playground sets and pieces encourage physical play through dynamic pieces that support many types of moment and motor skills. We also design fitness equipment for playgrounds that older children can use for physical play and better their personal health while having fun.

With decades of experience, we understand the importance of playgrounds for health and social reasons. When you partner with Playworld for your playground equipment, you can trust us to provide you with high-quality, durable equipment.

Request a quote from Playworld today.

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