Who doesn’t love a good game of tag or hide and seek? As children, we loved playing outdoor yard games with friends, and as adults, we can still reap the benefits of outdoor play. Not only are outdoor yard games fun and entertaining, but they also provide numerous physical and mental health benefits. These games can help improve cardiovascular and muscular health, sharpen reflexes, and increase coordination. They also provide a great opportunity to socialize with friends and family, releasing endorphins that can help to reduce stress and depression. Playing yard games outside is an easy and enjoyable way to get your daily dose of activity and fun. So grab your friends, family, and neighbors and get ready to have some outdoor fun!
What are yard games?
Any outdoor activity that creates social engagement and promotes group interaction is considered a yard game. So while a game of catch or a friendly game of baseball may fall into this category, so too might a game of cornhole or badminton. The term “yard game” has been popular since the 1990’s, though games like horseshoes and croquet have been around for much longer. These are purely outdoor activities, so you won’t find any yard games played indoors. What you will find, however, is that yard games can be played year-round. They’re perfect for both indoor and outdoor play, and can be played by any age or ability level.
Physical Benefits of Outdoor Play
There are many health benefits of playing yard games outside. These include increased cardiovascular health, better muscular strength, improved hand-eye coordination, and an increased ability to focus. Cardiovascular Health – When we think of physical activity, we often imagine running, lifting weights, or some other high-intensity activity. While these are great forms of exercise, there are many health benefits of exercising at a low to moderate intensity level. Playing a yard game like catch or badminton is a low-intensity activity, which means you won’t get tired quickly, yet you’re still getting a great cardio workout. It’s a great way to increase your cardiovascular fitness and lower your risk of developing chronic diseases like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and stroke. Better Muscular Strength – One of the biggest benefits of playing yard games is that you’ll improve your hand-eye coordination and muscular strength. Playing yard games that use your hands and arms, like horseshoes or cornhole, will improve strength and muscle stability in the upper body. Yard games that require leg power, like kickball or dodgeball, are great for building leg strength and stability in the lower body. Improved Hand-Eye Coordination – Playing yard games that require hand-eye coordination, like horseshoes or cornhole, will improve your reflexes and motor skill. These skills are important for everyday tasks, like driving, and preparing you for unforeseen circumstances like a medical emergency. Better Attention Skills – Playing yard games that require focus and attention to detail, like yard games that require math skills or puzzles, is great for improving attention skills. This is especially important for children, as they’re developing their attention skills through play.
Mental Health Benefits of Playing Yard Games
There are many mental health benefits of playing yard games, including reduced stress and anxiety, improved socialization, and an increased ability to focus. Stress and Anxiety Reduction – Playing yard games that involve other people, like cornhole or badminton, is a great way to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. Anxiety usually comes from feeling a sense of being overwhelmed or out of control, and playing games with others will help you gain a sense of control over your emotions. Improved Socialization – Playing yard games is a great way to improve your relationships with friends and family. It’s a relaxed setting that allows people to connect and chat without feeling pressured or nervous. This can be especially helpful for those who struggle with social anxiety. Playing yard games provides a casual environment for socialization, allowing you to become comfortable with others. Increased Focus – Playing yard games like puzzles, cards, or math skills can help improve your ability to focus. Focusing on a simple task, like trying to get all the numbers in a crossword puzzle correct, is a great way to train your brain to stay on track.
Social Benefits of Outdoor Play
Playing yard games outside with friends and family is a great way to strengthen relationships and build new friendships. Whether you’re playing catch or cornhole, yard games are a great way to socialize and enjoy the warm weather. Stronger Relationships – When you spend time with others, you have the opportunity to learn more about them. Playing yard games provides an open-ended opportunity to chat and get to know your friends and family better. These conversations can help to strengthen relationships, and make for great memories. New Friendships – Playing yard games also puts you in a position to meet new people, which can help you to form new friendships. The next time you’re hosting a backyard or outdoor party, try to include a yard game that’s easy for guests to join in with. This will help to get people mingling, and you just might make a new friend.
Examples of Outdoor Yard Games
Badminton – Badminton is a great backyard game to play in the warmer months. It’s easy to learn, and can be played with two or more players. Cornhole – Cornhole is a fun game to play with family and friends. It can be played by two or four players, and involves throwing beanbags into a hole on a board. Crosswords – Crosswords are a great yard game for all ages. You can create them on paper or online and play with a group. Dodgeball – If you want to get competitive, try out a game of dodgeball. This game can be played by two or more players and involves getting hit by a ball. Kickball – Another great game to play with family and friends, kickball is a great way to socialize and get some exercise. Jarts – Jarts is a fun outdoor game that can be played by two or more people. It’s similar to the game of horseshoes, but played with throwing darts.
Safety Considerations for Playing Yard Games
There are several safety considerations to keep in mind when playing yard games. First, always wear appropriate and safe footwear. No one should be playing a game barefoot, and closed-toed shoes are a must for many games. Second, always make sure you have the correct equipment. This includes having the right size of equipment for the game you’re playing, as well as making sure that the equipment is in good condition. Third, have a safe area to play. Keep onlookers away from the play area, and try to play in an area that has little to no traffic. Fourth, be safe about the type of language being used. Games that get competitive can get loud, and the use of foul language isn’t appropriate for children.
Playing yard games outside is a great way to get some physical activity, enjoy the warm weather, and spend time with friends and family. Yard games are great for all ages and abilities, and can be played by two or more people. There are a wide variety of yard games to choose from, ranging from competitive to low-intensity. When you play yard games, you’ll reap numerous physical and mental health benefits, including reduced stress and anxiety, improved socialization, and an increased ability to focus.