12 Benefits of Swinging
Who doesn't remember swinging as a child? The rush of the wind running through your hair, the open sky, the complete feeling of freedom. In the modern-day, gadgets and gizmos dominate our lives. The simple joys of swinging seem to get lost in the electric noise. However, this means kids are missing the incredible (and underappreciated) benefits of swinging for their development. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics stated that playground equipment, such as swings, have an equal impact as a formal classroom setting on childhood development.
Therefore, it is time to embrace swinging once more. Here are twelves remarkable benefits of swinging.
1. Body Awareness
Childhood is when we first learn about our bodies. It might seem strange to adults, but children need to learn how they can move their joints and muscles. For instance, what happens if you pump your legs and swing your arms. How do you move your body to propel yourself in a particular direction? All these are explored through the art of swinging.
Amazingly, our joints contain receptors that let our brain know where our joints and limbs are in space. We call this proprioception. Children also use the vestibular system, deep in the ear, to understand how fast they are moving, and in what direction. By swinging all this information comes flooding in, giving a child a chance to adjust to their full range of senses.
There is a reason granny sits in a rocking chair. Or why hammocks are so popular. The gentle, rhythmic swaying of swinging is remarkably relaxing. The back and forth motion calms children down. It allows a chance for quiet reflection while engaging the body. In the same way, a long stroll does for an adult. So, following a tough day at school, an hour in a swinging hammock is ideal for unwinding.
Part of mastering your senses is developing a sense of balance. As mentioned, the swing activates the vestibular system, which, alongside visual cues, is vital to balancing. By pushing these systems in a swing, children’s balance improves. Plus, hammock swings are versatile, allowing the child to use it in a variety of ways when exploring their balancing abilities.
Alongside balance, coordination is an essential motor skill. If swinging instructs children where each part of their body is, it also teaches them to move them together. To get into the air legs must be swung, arms must hold on tight, and their abdominal muscles must tense to maintain their posture. Only by doing all these actions together can a child learn to swing.
5. Build strength
By using the full range of movements, swinging helps strengthen bones and muscles as they grow. Regularly engaging in exercise reduces the risk of obesity, by burning tons of calories. While the aim is not to create little bodybuilders, having good muscle tone and strength will help children in their other activities, such as sports or physical education.
6. Outdoors fun
While hammock swings are perfect for indoor fun, you can’t beat swinging in the outdoors. Fresh air and the outside world encourage more outdoor activities. Plus, by being outside, children boost their production of vitamin D from the sun. Vitamin D helps build strong bones and prevents future illness.
7. Teaches sharing
When children are playing with each other, there is a complex learning experience going on. Children are learning about the needs of others. Through games and activities, they learn to work together and share ideas. The same is true of swinging. Whether it’s a swing set in a playground or a hammock swing at home, your child might not always be the first one swinging. They need to wait their turn. Additionally, if one child is struggling to swing, helping to show them how it’s done teaches cooperation. Sharing is caring.
8. Sensory Stimulation
The feel of the material, the sun and wind on your face. The creaking of the swing set. The smell of the outdoors. Swinging engages an entire world of sensory information. When swinging, children must bring all this information together to swing successfully. They also learn the joy of simple pleasures.
9. Improves Attention
For some children, staying focused is extremely difficult. Yet, swinging helps focus their brains. It provides a simple, rhythmic task with which to engage. If you do not concentrate and learn the skill, you will never swing successfully. Only by calming their mind, and focusing their attention on the task at hand, can the skill be learnt.
Additionally, part of the reason that children have reduced attention spans is their sensory input is distracting and overwhelming. Swinging helps reduce these sources of distraction, re-focusing the brain and calming their mood.
10. Cheap and simple fun
Swings are a cheap and easy-to-install piece of equipment. You do not need a whole swing set; a hammock swing is as good – if not better. It can be set up inside or outside, with just a few screws. Plus, once you’ve got your swing, it offers free, continuous fun. This also teaches an important lesson. Not all the joys in life must cost the earth.
11. Versatile activity
Swinging is excellent fun alone or with a parent: whether your child fancies a quick swing before school, or you take a moment to give them a push. It can also be adapted for a range of games. Once they’re a pro at swinging, have them try to throw a ball into a goal, as they swing. Or let them use their imagination to devise fun new games.
12. Great fun!
Last but not least: swinging is fun! While it’s great to have additional benefits, part of the joys of being a child is having good, old-fashioned fun. When you are swinging endorphins are rushing through your system; you're learning new skills and developing a feeling of accomplishment. No one leaves a swing without a smile!