Outdoor Play

obesity2

Although national rates of childhood obesity and juvenile diabetes are among the highest in the world, a new survey by Toys "R" Us offers hope for a healthy future for Australian children, by revealing that most Australian mothers encourage their kids to engage in regular outdoor, physical activity, with 75% saying they get at least two or more hours of play each day.

However, there are still a quarter of mums (1 in 4) that say their children get less than an hour of outdoor play each day – far less than the recommended daily amount1 - and an equal number concerned they don't get enough outdoor activity at school or day care.

"While the Toys "R" Us survey results are promising, it's still concerning that such a significant number of children aren't getting the required daily amount of outdoor play, which indicates we've got a long way to go in conquering one of our biggest public health challenges," explains Dr John Irvine, one of Australia's leading child psychologists and parenting authors.

"There are many important psychological and social reasons for keeping children active in play and it's imperative that more parents recognise that their kids need to be outside getting fitter, not inside getting fatter!" he adds.

85% of the respondents encourage physical activity by making it fun and accessible, and providing a range of outdoor play equipment such as bikes, trampolines or swing sets. In fact, most mothers (90%) acknowledge this is how their children get most of their daily exercise.2

Toys "R" Us spokesperson Marion Joyce says the survey results are a reflection of the boom the outdoor play category has experienced in recent years.

"We've seen a double-digit growth over the last three years, suggesting that Australian parents are becoming more engaged in recognising the importance of outdoor activity for their children. Trampolines, bikes, pools and swing sets are the most popular choices for families looking for outdoor fun solutions for their home," she adds.

For households with no outdoor play equipment, the main reasons include space constraints (37%) and overall cost (35%). To overcome these barriers Toys "R" Us has identified the Top 5 Outdoor Play Products under $40, as well as the Top 5 Portable Play Products. "These play options are both budget and space conscious and offer suitable alternatives to encourage more physical activity among families," adds Ms Joyce. 3

In addition to overall health and wellness, most Australian mothers believe that outdoor play helps to stimulate the mind and improve performance at school (82%), develop good social skills (75%), and maintain good behavior (56%).

Research was conducted by www.motherInc.com.au on behalf of Toys R Us between August 27th - September 7th 2010.

Additional survey findings from New South Wales and the ACT reveal:

• More than a quarter of NSW/ACT mothers say their children get less than one hour of outdoor play or physical activity each day

• Nearly 1 in 4 NSW/ACT mothers do not encourage outdoor, physical activity to be a part of quality family time – far higher than any other state

• 78% of NSW/ACT mothers say their children get two or more hours of outdoor play each day

• 72% of NSW/ACT mothers are happy with the amount of outdoor play / physical activity their children get at school or day care

• Nearly 30% of NSW/ACT mothers are concerned with the amount of outdoor play their kids get at school or day care

• 95% of NSW/ACT households have a safe outdoor space where children can play

• To encourage physical activity, more than three quarters of NSW/ACT households have a range of outdoor play equipment

• 21% of NSW/ACT households do not have any outdoor play equipment – reasons include space constraints (7%), cost / budget constraints (11%), and having good parks and community play facilities in the area (7%)

• More than half of NSW/ACT mothers say their children get most of their physical activity from outdoor play equipment; 41% say it's a combination of play equipment and taking part in sports

• Half of NSW/ACT mothers say that most outdoor play takes place at home; 23% say most takes place at school

• When not playing outdoors, only 10% of NSW/ACT mothers say their children's primary past time is watching television; more than 10% say they're most likely mostly read and/or play board games

• More than three quarters of NSW / ACT mothers encourage outdoor, physical activity to be a part of quality family time

• In addition to overall health and wellness, most QLD mothers strongly believe that outdoor, physical activity helps to: stimulate the mind and improve performance at school (74%), and develop good social skills (69%)

 
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