As statistics show that childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years, many after school programs have pushed for greater physical activity, particularly outdoors.
A recent study conducted by researchers from the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom hones in on the advantages of outdoor activities. Findings showed that children who spent more time involved in exercise outdoors decreased their risk for obesity and other weight-related health issues.
For the study, researchers examined the relationship between 427 children between the ages of 10 and 11 during outdoor and physical activity levels as part of the Personal and Environmental Associations with Children's Health (PEACH) project. They used accelerometers to determine the intensity of activity experienced as well as GPS devices to monitor when the children were outside. The children were also asked to keep a diary to record who they spent time with throughout the day.
Findings showed that children who spent more time outdoors were more likely to be physically active when compared to those who spent more time indoors. In fact, researchers calculated that for every hour spent outside playing with friends, the children ended up performing an additional 17 minutes of physical activity. Yet for every hour children spent playing indoor with friends, their physical activity levels only increased by an extra six minutes.
"We found that children spend most of their after-school time indoors and little time outdoors playing with other children, which…