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Why should I send my child outdoors to play?

Why should I send my child outdoors to play?

Racing and playing outdoors at LaughAndPlayOutdoors

Whether you have a toddler, preschooler or older child, their energy stores are never ending. Just when you thought they had climbed and raced enough, they still had enough energy for another game of tag. Why is that GREAT NEWS? Why should we be encouraging more activity outdoors? Because it promotes health-related fitness and movement skills, with the added bonus of stimulating brain activity (see my article titled: Exercise + Child = Enhanced Brian Development).

Daily physical activity can be sometimes very hard to 'fit into' the schedule of already busy lives. But fortunately kids naturally love getting outdoors and running around, they don't see it as exercise, but as fun.  However us, the parents or caregivers, stifle a natural need to exert energy and exercise different muscle groups because we are time poor. The TV, computer, and interactive games - are good baby sitters, but are keeping our kids indoors. They are not getting their daily requirement  of exercise - which to them is just great fun.

So how much 'FUN EXERCISE' is enough? The National Association for Sport & Physical Education has some fantastic guidelines for different age groups, which I have tabled below:

Infants

1

Infants should interact with parents and/or caregivers in daily physical activities that are dedicated to promoting the exploration of their environment.

 

2

Infants should be placed in safe settings that facilitate physical activity and do not restrict movement for prolonged periods of time.

 

3

Infants' physical activity should promote the development of movement skills.

 

4

Infants should have an environment that meets or exceeds recommended safety standards for performing large muscle activities.

 

5

Individuals responsible for the well-being of infants should be aware of the importance of physical activity and facilitate the child's movement skills.

 

Toddlers

1

30 minutes daily, accumulated, structured physical activity.

 

2

60 minutes minimum and up to several hours per day of daily of unstructured physical activity. 

 

3

Should not be sedentary for more than 60 minutes at a time except when sleeping.

 

4

Toddlers should develop movement skills that are building blocks for more complex movement tasks.

 

 

 

Preschoolers

1

60 minutes minimum, accumulated daily of structured physical activity.

 

2

60 minutes minimum and up to several hours of daily, unstructured physical activity

 

3

Should not be sedentary for more than 60 minutes at a time except when sleeping.

 

 

 

6-12 Year Olds

1

60 minutes minimum, accumulated, and up to several hours, of age appropriate physical activity on all, or most days of the week, and should include moderate and vigorous physical activity

 

2

Children should participate each day in a variety of age appropriate physical activity lasting 15 minutes or more each day

 

3

Extended periods - that is of 2 or more hours - of inactivity is discouraged for children, especially during the daytime hours.

 

This all looks a little daunting - and could look like more running around from one sports field or dance studio to another, and laying out copious amounts of money forever - but in essence you don't have to do that. Just creating obstacle courses outdoors in your own back yard or a park with say frisbee games, ball games, jumping games, tactical games, climbing structures, hoops and trampolines - you have your own gym and exercise / FUN place to play for hours and hours.               

 

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