A recent study of nearly 9,000 preschoolers across the country found that almost fifty percent of 3 to 5 year olds were not taken outside every day by a parent or caregiver.
Dr. Pooja Tandon of Seattle Children's Research Institute, the study's lead author, recently told CNN's The Chart. Men, in particular, have a lot of room for improvement. The study found that mothers took their children outside more than fathers did.
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.
We know that outdoor activity is part of a healthy lifestyle, but, as Dr. Tandon points out in the article, playing outdoors is also important in the development of social skills and their peer interactions. Outdoor play also affords children the opportunity to apply what they learned in books and use cognitive skills.
One part of the study The Chart's article doesn't touch on is the recommendation that efforts should be made to increase the outdoor activity of nonwhite preschool girls. According to the CDC, Approximately 17% of children and adolescents aged 2—19 years are obese; 1 of 7 low-income, preschool-aged children is obese.
Parents can do their part in preventing childhood obesity by ensuring kids have 60 minutes of play outdoors every day, as recommended by the First Lady's Let's Move! initiative.
Parents who work outside the home should dress kids appropriately for outdoor play at school. Sturdy shoes in warm weather to allow the kids to run and jump, and scarves, hats and mittens in cool weather. If a preschool doesn’t provide recess parents should band together and advocate for it. You can find more suggestions on how you can incorporate outdoor activities into the lives of preschoolers on the Let's Move Outside website.