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Let's Play: Study Finds Preschoolers Need More Opportunities for Active Play

5/18/2015

Physical activity is important for young children’s health and development, yet most 3- to 5-year-olds are not getting the two hours per day of recommended physical activity. A study in the June 2015 Pediatrics, “Active Play Opportunities at Child Care,” published online May 18, finds kids simply are not given enough opportunities for active play. For the study, researchers observed 98 children from 10 child care centers in the Seattle area. All of the centers had scheduled at least 60 minutes per day of outdoor play time, and they all had outdoor play areas as well as indoor space for physical activity. Researchers categorized children’s activity levels throughout the day, and the children wore accelerometers. In the study, children averaged 48 minutes per day of active play opportunities and only 33 minutes per day of actual outdoor time. Children had less than 10 minutes per day of teacher-led physical activities. For 88 percent of the time children were in the center, they were not given opportunities for active play, which explains the finding that children were sedentary for 70 percent of their time. Children were more likely to be active when outdoors and engaged in free play, rather than in teacher-led activities indoors or outdoors. Study authors conclude that children should have more opportunities for active play during preschool. Possible strategies include increasing outdoor time, more child-initiated and teacher-led active play, and flexibility in naptime for older preschoolers.


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The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 62,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults.


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