Health Experts’ Advice on Having Your Happiest Summer Yet

Dr Kate Stephens PhD Food and Microbial Sciences; Gut Microbiology (University of Reading), BSc Medical Microbiology

As parents across the UK breathe a universal sigh of relief at the prospect of no school runs for six weeks, health experts advise that spending time outdoors over the summer holidays could set children up for a better start when they return to school in September – this year, outdoor play could be the best holiday homework.

kids outside
Encourage your kids to get outdoors this summer

Dr Kate Stephens, Gut Microbiologist, explains:

“Our microbiome is home to trillions of microbes in the gastrointestinal tract – think of it as a clever microscopic eco system. The microbiome can be easily influenced during the earliest years of life and it is thought by scientists that children who expose themselves to different environments have a more diverse and well-balanced microbiome. So, getting those sunshine hours in with a day in the garden or trip to the park is really important.”

The average UK child spends 3.7 hours outside a day during the summer holidays

We recently commissioned some research, which has shown that, reassuringly, children enjoy an average of 129** ‘Sunshine Hours***’ over the six-week summer holidays. This explains why 8 in 10 parents say the summer significantly boosts their child’s mood (83%) and 67% notice a positive improvement to their child’s health.

Almost three quarters of parents (71%) say their children are happier during the month of August than any other, with ‘going on a day trip’ being the number one activity to make children aged 4–12 years most happy this summer. In fact, little ones don’t always have to venture far – with parents saying they are just as happy playing in the garden (60%) as jetting away on holiday (61%).

boy gardening
Results of our research show that children love being outside

Dr Sam Wass, Developmental Psychologist, comments:

“Outdoor play is essential for a child’s cognitive development for a number of reasons. Children naturally have higher energy levels than adults, and being able to run around is not only good for releasing pent-up energy, but it also aids physical development such as muscle growth and bone development. Exposure to natural environments can also have a positive impact on a child’s mental wellbeing, as exploring the outdoors is an incredibly sensory experience, and because it allows children to ‘make their own fun’ has been proven to have a direct, beneficial effect on children’s learning.”

Top 10 activities making UK children happiest this summer

1. Going on a day trip (63%)

2. Going on holiday (61%)

3. Playing in the garden (60%)

4. Staying up late (51%)

5. Being able to play all day, every day (50%)

6. Playing on the beach (48%)

7. Being together as a family (47%)

8. Being able to play as long as they like (41%)

9. Not having to rush out the door every morning (39%)

10. Seeing more of mum and dad (37%)

Have you tried Babies & Children?

Optibac Probiotics - 'For babies & Children'

We’re focusing on you and your family this summer. Our ‘For babies & children’ supplement is here to help your kids reset this summer. Babies & Children is a natural supplement with fibre to help support immune and gut health in children from birth to 12 years. It has been clinically trialled in school-age children, and is free from artificial sugars, flavours and preservatives.

For more summer reading, try:
How to Stay Healthy While Travelling Abroad
Holiday prep with ‘For travelling abroad’: As seen in Prima!
Create a family morning routine you love


Research conducted in July 2019 by Censuswide among 1009 parents of children aged between 4 – 12.

* Average sick days calculated based on the required 380 sessions per school year, and illness absenteeism accounting for 2.6% of sessions per year

**Sunshine hours refer to the amount of time kids spend outdoors during the summer holidays

***Sunshine hours were calculated based on the number of hours kids spend outside per day x 42 days (6 week summer break)


• The average child spends nearly four (3.7) hours a day outside during the summer holidays

• Children in Wales spend the most time outdoors during the summer holidays (144 hours)

• 87% of parents agree that the summer holidays are so important for their kids to rest and restore before going back to school in September

• 94% of parents agree it’s important for children to have a break from the classroom and spend some time outdoors and play

• 76% of parents believe Ice Cream is the food that makes children the happiest during the summer holidays (76%)

• Days out to beaches, parks and swimming pools are kids’ favourite choices

• 25% of parents agree that with the modern-day stresses on children, it’s important to give them probiotics to keep them healthy