Kids love being outside and running around.  It’s a great way to lose some of their energy and play with friends and family.  And in the summer there is often sand and water involved.  What could be more fun?

The good news is that their skin loves it too!  Playtime outdoors has many benefits for the skin.  Fresh air, water, and sunlight do wonders for skin health.  So go ahead and let them get sweaty and dirty.

Exercise helps kids’ skin

Moving and jumping around gets kids tired and increases blood circulation throughout the body including the skin.  The higher blood flow brings nutrients to the skin and flushes away toxins, cell debris, waste products, and free radicals.  It promotes growth of new cells and repair of damaged ones, and it helps to reduce inflammation.  It’s a tuneup for the skin!  And children’s exercise often includes swimming, which keeps the body clean and cool.

Boy running with kite
Girl and boy running with ball

Sunlight has many benefits

Although you have to be careful that your kids don’t to get too much.  The epidermis (the skin layer just below the surface) absorbs UV light from the sun to make vitamin D, which is a vital nutrient.  For light-skinned people, about 30 minutes outside in the middle of the day produces all the vitamin D you need.  Darker-skinned people need to be outside longer, because the melanin pigment in the skin absorbs some of the UV light, according to Michaela Brenner and Vincent Hearing at the National Institutes of Health.

Be careful in the sun

Sunlight helps the skin make vitamin D, but too much can cause sunburns and even skin aging and skin cancer.  Dark-skinned people are less sensitive but they can also have sunburns.  And the UVA rays that cause skin aging and melanomas are not screened out by the melanin pigment in the skin.  All very good reasons to use plenty of sunscreen every day.  Best is to make it part of your child’s daily skin care routine.

Dirt is good

Dirt and soil contain microbes that can train your immune system to make it stronger and more resistant to bad germs.  Kids need to get muddy and dirty to develop this resistance.  When they’re back home, all that dirt can be washed off in the bath or with a gentle, non-irritating hand soap.  After the bath, avoid dry skin with a natural, hypoallergenic moisturizer.

Play is problem solving

Children need free play time to learn how to solve problems, how to plan activities, work with playmates, and use their imagination to be creative.  These are highly important life skills.  Kids learn through play how to work with other children, make friends, how to share, and how to behave.  And they should be free to take risks and learn from failure as well as success.  Let them climb that tree!

It’s spring and the weather is getting warmer.  Flowers and trees are growing and inviting us to be outside.  In any season, get the kids outside for healthier skin and healthier bodies.

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