According to a recent study published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, only half of preschool age children have a parent-supervised playtime each day. This news is alarming because exercise – particularly the kind that comes from playing outside – is crucial for children’s health and physical development.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children who take part in physical activity outside can experience improved mental health, motor development, cognition, vision and vitamin D levels. Additionally, according to the American Heart Association, physical activity can help with weight control, lowering blood pressure, reducing risk of some cancers and diabetes, and increasing HDL (“good”) cholesterol.
The study’s authors determined that girls and racial minorities were among the groups who got the least amount of outdoor playtime. Children whose parents exercised frequently were more likely to get outdoor playtime. Given the importance of physical activity throughout all stages of life, here are a few tips to help you encourage your child to become active for life:
- As a parent, try to model an active lifestyle for your children. Play with them when they are on the playground or take them to a fitness class. Find a way to incorporate physical activity into family activities.
- Encourage them to play outside and limit the amount of time they are allowed to spend playing video games, watching television or on the computer.
- Help your child meet the American Heart Association’s daily recommended amount of exercise: at least 60 minutes per day for children two and older. If they don’t have a 60-minute recess or gym class at schools, encourage physical activity at home, such as swimming, Frisbee, biking, dancing, active video games, bowling or walking the dog.