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Too Many Children Spend Little Time Outdoors

by The Kid's Doctor Staff

If you think your child is slowly turning in to a couch potato, you may not be alone. New research from Australia suggests that many children spend too little time outdoors and too much time in front of the TV and a lack of suitable outdoor spaces may be partly to blame.

The study looked at nearly 1,400 10- to 12-year-olds and found that 37 percent typically spent a half-hour or less being active outside. Few were outdoors for two hours or more on a typical day.

Researchers found that many children devoted at least two hours per day to the TV or computer screen, with 49 percent of boys and 36 percent of girls doing so.

The researchers did find, however, that certain children were more likely to play outdoors for more than a half-hour at a time, namely those whose parents allowed them to walk around their neighborhood on their own.

The finding suggests that when parents think their neighborhood is safe, children are more likely to get outdoor exercise, according to Dr. Li Ming Wen and colleagues at Sydney South West Area Health Service and the University of Sydney.

Dr. Wen told Reuters Health that if more neighborhoods were safe, clean, walkable and offered public areas where children could play, that might allay parents’ concerns and help kids be regularly active.

Wen suggested that, when possible, parents not drive their children to school but allow them to walk. Having them walk with their friends, the researcher noted, may help ease parents’ safety worries.

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