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Nearly Half of Pre-schoolers Not Playing Outside Daily

The early childhood years are crucial for learning and development. That should involve a great deal of outdoor physical activity and playtime, but that's not always the case.

Nearly half of 3 to 5 year olds are not taken outdoors by a parent or caregiver every day, according to research presented in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine this week.

"There's a big room for improvement in how parents prioritize their time and what they're doing in the time they're spending with their pre-school children," said lead study author Dr. Pooja Tandon of Seattle Children's Research Institute.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children play outside as much as possible, for at least 60 minutes a day. Physical activity is not only good for weight control and preventing childhood obesity; previous research also suggests playing outside improves motor development, vision and vitamin D levels.

"There is evidence that play - just sort of the act of playing - is important for children's development of their social skills and their peer interactions," Tandon said. "Being outdoors affords children an opportunity to play in ways that they may not get to when they're indoors."

In the study, researchers studied almost 9,000 pre-schoolers nationwide and asked their parents how often they take their children outside to play.

Mothers took their children out to play more often than fathers did. Working outside of the home was often a barrier for children to play outdoors, but some parents…
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