Dr. Marla Shapiro: Why aren't kids getting outside more?
Published Tuesday, August 7, 2012 9:28AM EDT
The American Academy of Pediatrics encourages children to play outdoors as much as possible. Being outdoors correlates with physical activity and activity is protective against obesity, promotes cardiovascular health, musculoskeletal health, mental health and also increases academic achievement.
Young children achieve physical activity through play. Outdoor play is important for motor development, vision, cognition, vitamin D levels and mental health.
In young children, parents have the greatest influence on outdoor play. In this week's Archives of Adolescent and Pediatric Medicine is a U.S survey representative of American children repeated over a 5-year period of time.
By preschool, 80% of children are in some kind of daycare for an average of 28.5 hrs/week and screen time averages at 3.78 hrs/day.
The survey found that most moms worked outside the house and exercised 0-3 days/week.
It found that 44% of moms took kids out daily versus only 24% of dads.As well, 15% of moms and 30% of dads never took their kids outside. Only about half of the kids went out on a daily basis.
Children were more likely to go outside if:
- they were male
- they had more regular playmates
- mom worked fewer hours per week
- parents exercised more
- less time in daycare
- about half of preschool kids are not taken outside daily
- reschool girls are less likely to be taken outdoors
- girls have more allergies than boys and it may be because they aren't allowed to get dirty
- logistics and time great influencers.
It important to stress outdoor play in childcare settings as childcare settings are not meeting the 60 minutes daily activity that is recommended for children.
In Canada, we recently saw the publication of guidelines for both sedentary and physical activity in children. This American study reinforces that we are not doing a good enough job getting our preschoolers to be active.