Kids are not getting enough outdoor time with parents, found a recent study published in the Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine. The study found that less than half of all mothers, and less than a quarter of fathers engaged in outdoor activity with their child every day.
Why outdoor time is important
The National Association for Sport and Physical Education guidelines states that children should get at least one hour of physical activity each day; for preschoolers there should be at least an hour of unstructured play each day.
Busy parents with jobs means that there may not be time to be outdoors with their child every day.
Also parents may assume that their child is getting that outdoor play time at day care, but this may or may not be the case.
Girls may be even less likely to get outdoor play time
The study also found that preschool aged girls are even less likely than boys to be taken out for sport and play.
The possible reason for this is probably the fact that girls are thought to be less athletically oriented – a sort of “boys play sport”, “girls play house” kind of mindset could be responsible for this.
The long term results of this disparity could be quite significant, think experts. Less exposure to outdoor physical activity at an early age could mean that girls become less active even as they grow older. This could mean higher chances of being overweight later in life.
Also girls are expected to be cleaner and neater than boys (what is being called gendered standards of cleanliness) which restricts them to more aseptic environments. This prevents normal development of immunity and could be responsible for higher rates of certain autoimmune and atopic disorders in females.
Tips to get that outdoor time with your child
Take your child to the park with a friend who has a child. Making it a play date makes it fun for you and your child.
Walk to the shops and to errands. Walk out of doors as much as possible with your child. When he or she is old enough this can become bike rides.
Get into gardening. This is a great hobby that develops your child’s interest in the outdoors and helps them to learn at the same time.
Make it a point to play something out of doors everyday: play catch, toss a Frisbee, shoot hoops, play badminton, play a variety of games together as a family.