Swings, roundabouts and skipping ropes: The equipment making children healthier

Swings, roundabouts and skipping ropes: The equipment making children healthier

Adapted from The Telegraph

 

shutterstock_420814894.jpg

 

Sometimes you just can’t beat the classics.

And when it comes to play equipment, new research reinforces this very idea.

Children who play on traditional swing sets, roundabouts and with an item as simple as a skipping rope were found to be more likely to meet physical activity recommendations.

Focusing on the fitness levels and activity habits of children aged 5-17, experts at the University of Queensland found the healthiest children to be those whose play incorporated this more traditional equipment as opposed to more modern toys or electronics.

Public health researcher Dr Katrina Moss said of the study, “We found the type of play equipment that children have at home is directly related to the amount of physical activity they do.

“This is good news because play equipment at home is modifiable, and in lots of cases, it can be easily changed.

“It's also not about having the most equipment; it's about having the right equipment. Parents don't have to go out and buy every toy, they just need to have the right combination of play equipment to support their child's physical activity.”

Children who had access to this traditional equipment met the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity a day on a greater number of days than those who took part in more modern activities, such as playing computer games.

So what can we as parents take from this research?

Two key actions; encourage children to play in the garden and make trips to the playground a regular family activity.

And for some this is possible, however for others it’s not always that simple.

When once nothing could beat swinging the highest or getting the dizziest on roundabouts, ever-changing gadgets, decreasing garden size and declining playgrounds means this type of play equipment is not always available to all children.

For many children, playgrounds are their only chance for outdoor play, therefore the closures threaten their current and future health.

If children are to meet physical activity guidelines, we must do all we can to promote the importance of play, both outdoor and free.