Benefits of Outdoor Play- Supporting Childhood Mental Health

Are you looking for new ways to promote children’s physical, mental, and emotional development in your local parks or school playgrounds? As experts in the outdoor play industry, we understand the critical role of outdoor play spaces in facilitating healthy childhood development.

This Mental Health Awareness Week, it’s time to appreciate the psychological benefits of outdoor play. This is important for planning play developments to create safe, enriching environments for healthy growth and development.

With our client-first approach to playground design, our surfaces provide a wide range of benefits to the mental wellbeing of children. Here are just some of the ways we look to promote and support childhood development with our playground projects.

Psychological Benefits of Outdoor Play: Mental Health Awareness Week

Outdoor play is a crucial component of children’s mental well-being, capable of empowering and inspiring children. Fresh air and interaction with the natural world have stress reducing impacts as well as facilitating space for social interaction and physical activity.

Parks and playgrounds should strive to promote benefits of outdoor play on children’s mental health throughout their development. To do this, we recommend the inclusion of safe surfacing, creative design, and existing alongside elements of nature.

Playground and landscape design can ultimately create a unique and interesting space to play. Engaging children in new ways enables them to safely explore their surroundings to develop key social skills and independence.

Surface design can guide children through a play space with pathways, colour coded sections of the area for different age groups or forms of play and sports markings. This helps to encourage a range of play activities, including imaginative play with themed elements, active play in sports and fitness areas and unstructured interaction for holistic mental development.

Children’s Outdoor Play Safety Surfacing- Protecting Fun

When creating outdoor play environments where children can explore, experiment and have fun, ensuring safety remains paramount. Freedom and risk taking is important in health childhood development, supporting independence and confidence in unique ways. Therefore, playground design needs to accommodate this form of unstructured play with safe surfacing to reduce the likelihood of injuries without inhibiting free play activities.

Active play equipment like climbing towers, trim trails, and more allow children to push their limits and explore their capabilities. When designing a playground for this form of adventure, our team tests and installs surfacing to ensure protection for the appropriate Critical Fall Heights. This means that protection from safety surfacing must be substantial for the maximum height of the equipment for the range around the equipment where falls may occur.

We recommend our SmartPlay grass mat system to provide outdoor play safety for any active play equipment areas. The SmartPlay shock pad underlay and thick rubber EcoSmart grass mats provide up to 2.5m of Critical Fall Height protection and is suitable for installation on a range of existing surfaces. For more details on our grass mat system and its benefits, get your Free Guide to Grass Mats.

Landscape Design for Exciting and Engaging Environments

The aesthetics of outdoor play spaces play a significant role in capturing children’s attention and fostering engagement. Vibrant colours, imaginative designs, and elements of nature can transform a mundane playground into a magical realm of exploration and discovery. By creating visually appealing outdoor spaces, we inspire children to explore, learn, and grow in harmony with their surroundings.

Stimulating the Senses

The aesthetics of an outdoor play space is significant to captivate children’s imaginations to encourage relaxation, fun, and enjoyment. The visual appeal of bright colours and patterns excite and inspire children. However, this can also work to direct and structure play towards appropriate sites to improve safety.

Play areas for younger children often incorporate bright colours and themed playground markings or shapes. This clearly designates certain sections of the playground as suitable for certain ages. Our vibrant rubber surfacing uses EPDM rubber mulch. This provides shock-absorbance to protect from falls and additionally does not release carbon residue that can stain children’s’ clothes and skin if allowed to build up (a common issue for SBR rubber playgrounds).

A vibrant pathway, or even a race-track design is a great way to direct children into certain areas most suitable for them to engage in safe play. Utilising fun and design in this way is a subtle way to control the flow of people while also providing the perfect engaging landscape for play.

Incorporating Elements of Nature

As well as incorporating colour into a play area’s smart design, nature is important to a holistic outdoor experience. Mental health experts find that interaction with nature, playing or relaxing among vegetation or around trees is beneficial to long-term mental health, releasing endorphins and improving the mood.

When designing outdoor play spaces, consider incorporating elements of nature to capture and utilise the benefits of outdoor play amongst the local ecosystem. Surfacing can enhance and protect natural beauty to promote play in proximity to nature. JungleMulch rubber mulch is porous and flexible, allowing for installation for tree surrounds. This provides an extra layer of protection both to the trees, by protecting roots and limiting weed growth, but also creates a flat, secure, and accessible area of ground for activity and play.

PlaySmart- Designing Playgrounds for the Wellbeing of the Next Generation

For Mental Health Awareness Week, we continue our dedication to working considerations of excitement, relaxation and safety into our outdoor play projects. Every child deserves access to a space to play, explore and relax, it is our job to ensure that these areas are safe, secure, and remain that way for years to come.

Contact our team to work with us to upgrade and enhance your playground in new and unique ways for your local area.

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