Children who spend more time playing outdoors demonstrate increased physical activity, improved health and advanced social development. Outdoor playground equipment is designed with this in mind, to help children best achieve developmental milestones appropriate for their age group.
In response to a significant decrease in time spent outdoors and its negative impact on children, global stakeholders and researchers have come together from around the world to establish a Position Statement on Active Outdoor Play. “When children are outside they move more, sit less and play longer—behaviors associated with improved cholesterol levels, blood pressure, body composition, bone density, cardiorespiratory and musculoskeletal fitness and aspects of mental, social and environmental health.”
The position is based on consistent evidence showing that children are more active and less sedentary when outside compared to time spent indoors. Childhood obesity is on an all time high around the world, many argue as a result of an increasingly sedentary lifestyle. A recent survey revealed Canadian children spend more than 8 hours in a sedentary state each day.
It is essential to instill the importance of outdoor play in children from an early age, as habits learned early in life tend to transcend into adulthood. The provision of outdoor playground equipment provides an ideal outlet for unstructured, active play to increase physical activity in children.
Despite the many health benefits of outdoor play, children remain inside in great numbers. Some argue outside play can be dangerous for children. In response, the statement analyzes several safety concerns, reviews playground safety statistics surrounding injuries and reveals most injuries associated with outdoor play are minor. The most common injuries of healthy, active play on outdoor playground equipment are fractures of the upper limbs.
The position statement challenges criticism of playground safety with consequences to keeping children indoors, arguing that children who spend more time indoors are more likely to be exposed to violence or media that is inappropriate for their age group. They also miss out on the many health benefits that playing outdoors provides.