Don’t let the pandemic keep kids from going outside in chilly weather

Outdoor activity is mentally healthy—and crucial during shutdowns.

Pele used to have a regular routine that got him out of the house. The nine-year-old from Bedford, Massachusetts, played sports, ran around with friends, and enjoyed daily recess at school. But with COVID-19 still raging, he’s now mostly cooped up at home—and winter is coming.

Even before the pandemic, children were spending only about four to seven minutes a day in unstructured outdoor play, according to the National Recreation and Park Association. That time has been slashed now that most outside activities are limited—many children aren’t even getting fresh air going to and from school. In fact, a recent study by the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine found that parents reported their children were less physically active and more sedentary during April and May compared to February.

And now, here come shorter days and chilly weather—something that’s bound to make children want to snuggle indoors more. But scientists agree that getting outside even during colder months is crucial for a child’s health.

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