We all know that kids who spend too much time in front of the t.v. and/or computer are at greater risk of obesity and other problems, but what about kids who aren't glued to a screen but are still inside, glued to a book or Legos or board games? A study led by Dr. Pooja Tandon, a pediatrician with the Center for Child Health, Behavior, and Development at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, says nearly half of all preschool-age children in the U.S. don’t have outdoor playtime with their parents at least once a day, which might have a negative impact on their health and well-being.
The National Association for Sport and Physical Activity recommends children get at least 60 minutes of exercise every day (where "exercise" usually means running around and climbing everything and jumping from high places and just generally spazzing out, if my preschooler may serve as an example), and Tandon's research showed that's not happening in many cases, whether because the parents are overscheduling their kids with too many classes and activities or because the demands of being a single parent or one of two working parents makes it hard to incorporate outdoor play into the daily routine.
Myself, I enjoy picnics and long(ish) walks on the beach, but I'm an indoor girl at heart. There are days when I only leave the house for preschool drop-off and pick-up, which is fine by me but probably not setting the best precedent for the baby in my care. I don't worry too much about my four-year-old because he's at a play-based preschool that schedules many hours of outdoor activity each day, but the study definitely made me think twice about the difference between him getting exercise at preschool versus with the family, since the key to raising an active child is to make exercise part of the family culture. Lord knows I could use some exercise myself.
For more information, the original study is here (you need to register with the JAMA Network for access), but this article from ABC News gives a good summary of the contents. Basically, get your kids outside! Run, jump, skip, twirl, spaz out, and enjoy the summer!
How much time do your kids spend playing outdoors every day?