5 Benefits of Muddy WalksOctober 6, 2021 • Outdoor Ideas
Autumn has arrived in the UK, bringing with it plenty of rain and mud – the perfect welly weather children love! Little explorers love playing in mud; there is such joy in jumping in muddy puddles and squeezing and squelching mud through the fingers!
Mud is easily accessible to children around the world and is beneficial for their health and development. Why not head out with the family this World Mental Health Day (10th October), jump in muddy puddles and reconnect with nature. Here are just a few of the benefits of muddy walks:
1) It is a great workout for the whole family
Little legs have to work harder to walk through the mud and to stop sliding in it. All muscle groups are engaged including the legs and core muscles. Walking in mud also helps improve balance and works most muscles in the upper body. Plus, jumping in muddy puddles helps improve cardiovascular fitness.
2) It is a brilliantly engaging activity
Playing and walking in mud can help growing explorers get fully absorbed in what they are doing. It is important to let them fully engage in their muddy activity and not worry about their clothes getting mucky. Once they have the right kit, they can fully experience their muddy activity, oblivious to the condition of their hands and clothes and likely to be smiling broadly and satisfied with what they have achieved.
3) It boosts their mood and immune system
Engaging in muddy play may lift children’s mood. A study by Bristol University and University College London found that the friendly bacteria in soil may activate neurons responsible for producing the brain chemical serotonin — which is a natural mood stabilizer and helps regulate mood, social behaviour, appetite, digestion and sleep. Contact with the many bacteria in mud can also help children to develop strong immune systems.
4) It is fun!
Mud is a fantastic source of endless fun. Getting dirty is super fun for children and there are endless possibilities for play and learning. Children do not need to be directed to play with mud – they are inextricably drawn to it. A muddy, sticky slippery patch of dirt is irresistible to most children, which makes it an ideal resource to stimulate learning. Plus, while kids are squishing around outdoors, they naturally challenge themselves to become more adventurous thus boosting their confidence.
5) It feeds their imagination and creativity
Children know instinctively that mud is a wonderful, open-ended material for play and learning. It also stimulates artistic expression and imagination. During unstructured, outdoor play, children form ideas, solve problems and think critically and creatively as they find new ways to use mud, test out ideas and solve problems.