Keeping kids active and healthy is a concern around the world. Obesity is a common issue that can lead to a variety of medical problems for people of all ages, and for some time now, educators and administrators have been looking for ways to get kids moving, with limited success.
The meteoric rise of social media and the various devices people use for it haven’t helped this situation, either. Kids in Scotland, for example, spend more time with screens and not enough time getting exercise. There have been a lot of attempts to get kids more active at school–but what about the time they spend out of school?
According to a survey by researchers at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, the missing ingredient could be getting children to play outside. Outdoor play has a number of benefits, namely that it’s possible year round and that it gets kids away from computers and other devices. The focus is on play because it fills a vital role in the social development of children as well a having health benefits. And putting the emphasis on outdoor play helps to drive home the fact that kids don’t have to be in gym classes at school in order to get exercise.
Outdoor play could also have academic benefits. Play helps children have more energy and a better understanding of how to successfully interact with their peers, driving them toward better grades. Restlessness and sluggishness can both be a detriment to kids being able to pay attention in class and retain what they learn there. So giving them opportunities to play outside–or just getting them to do so in their free time–could really help.
Getting kids to put down tablets and controllers and go run around outside might not be the easiest task, but it’s one that is worth trying.