Childhood obesity has evolved into a serious health problem in America. Among children between 2 and 5 years, obesity prevalence is almost 14%, while it is more than 18% among kids between 6 and years and over 20% among teenagers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While eating habits are to blame for this, another major reason for high obesity prevalence in the US is the lack of physical activity.
This, in turn, has resulted from a dramatic rise in the time spent by children staring at a screen like watching television, working on a computer, playing videogames and time spent on smartphones. Most children in the US have daily screen time of as much as 7 hours, says an article published by National Institutes of Health’s MedlinePlus department. The article goes on to say that this trend has resulted in children getting less sleep at night, facing problems related to attention, anxiety, and depression as well as increased risk of obesity.
Parents can protect their children for these problems by reducing their screen time and encouraging them to visit the playground and replacing time spent on passive entertainment with active recreation time. Playgrounds can be a lot of fun for children, provided it has the right equipment with creative and forward-thinking design and cutting-edge engineering, say experts at Cunningham Recreation.
Physical Benefits: Children spend more time being active and have the following benefits:
- Hones motor skills
- Builds muscles and physical strength
- Improves immunity
- Builds dexterity
- Promotes lifelong habits of physical activity
Brain Development: As kids explore and engage with the world around them, they enjoy the following cognitive advantages:
- Encourages creativity and imagination
- Helps develop new competencies
- Builds endurance and resilience
- Hones decisionmaking skills
Social Skills: As children get to interact with other kids and play in groups, they learn the following:
- Teaches children to adjust in Teaches key lessons, like waiting for your turn and how to cope with kids who are older or bigger
- Teaches life skills, like sharing, negotiating and resolving conflicts
- Helps to conquer fears
- Builds confidence
- Helps develop leadership skills
Time spent playing also improves a child’s learning behaviors and problem-solving skills, says a report published by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Get Involved in Your Child’s Play Time
Spending time at the playground leads to a healthier and happier childhood. To reap the maximum benefits of playground time, encourage children to move at their own pace, explore and discover what they are most interested in and to fully engage in the activities they are naturally attracted to. While children are naturally drawn to playgrounds, there are times when parents or teachers may need to encourage children to explore and participate more actively in the playground. Such guidance needs to be gentle and nurturing. Such interactions have an added benefit, according to a report published by the University of Victoria—they convey to kids that their parents or teachers are giving them their full attention and help to build more enduring relationships.