Things to be considered, according to a new study: confined play spaces, need for parental supervision, organized programs and games
The current epidemic of obesity among our children and adolescents calls for creative, multidisciplinary approaches to address the problem. Improved nutrition at home, at school, and in the community is critical. Increased exercise is similarly important, but it is well known that the amount and quality of physical exercise declines as young children grow up and continues to decline into adulthood.
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A recent study looked at the types and amount of exercise that kids engaged in in public parks and offers some insights as to how to improve the physical activity levels of our youth through improved park planning.
Researchers observed 2,712 children in 20 randomly selected parks in communities around Durham, North Carolina. They divided the children into preschoolers, ages 6-12, and adolescents. Then they watched the types of play and intensity of exercise in which children participated.
Earlier studies had shown that parks with playgrounds, basketball courts, walking paths, tracks, swimming areas, and multipurpose rooms were associated with higher levels of physical activity and better physical health. Similarly, sports fields, courts, and playgrounds were associated with greater activity compared to other types of parks areas, such as open space and picnic.