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<p>Physical activity through play is essential for pre-schoolers’ growth and development.</p>
Outdoor play can help encourage healthy growth
Kids need a range of things to promote– a good diet, plenty of exercise, and fresh air are just some of the elements that can help with their wellbeing
This could be more important than ever if new research proves to be true – experts from the Seattle Children’s Research Institute believe that youngsters simply aren’t enjoying enough outdoor playtime.
Almost half of the kids surveyed in the US were found not to go outside at least once a day for parent-supervised play, which in turn could make them less active in later life.
Not only does going outdoors encourage kids to get out and about, but also allows them to interact with other children and develop social skills.
Study findings show that pre-schoolers with three or more regular playmates are twice as likely to go outside on a daily basis.
Research leader Dr Pooja Tandon noted that there may be some barriers to parent-assisted play, including single-parent families and those where both the mother and father go out to work.
However, she explained that every effort should be made to encourage children to partake in at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise every day.
The team found that girls are less likely to play outside than boys and that mothers are more actively engaged in outdoor activity than fathers.
In fact, 44 per cent of mums said they took their kids outside daily compared to 24 per cent of dads.
Furthermore, 15 per cent of mothers and 30 per cent of fathers did not take their kids outdoors either to walk or play even a few times per week.
Dr Tandon explained: “Physical activity through play is essential for pre-schoolers’ growth and development.
“Outdoor play is also beneficial for motor development, vision, cognition, vitamin D levels and mental health.”
She noted that there needs to be a cultural shift where outdoor play is better promoted, as this will bring various benefits to children in the long term.
The researchers recommended getting friends involved in promoting outdoor activity and asking day care centres what they do to encourage kids to exercise.