Magazine article Work & Family Life

Healthy Kids Need More Time for Free Play

Magazine article Work & Family Life

Healthy Kids Need More Time for Free Play

Article excerpt

The much-publicized battle against childhood obesity has a missing link, according to the Alliance for Childhood, a nonprofit partnership of health professionals and educators.

"The missing ingrethent is good old-fashioned child-initiated play, the kind that used to keep children moving and active for hours each day," said Joan Almon, executive director of the Alliance.

"We're delighted that Michelle Obama has taken up this issue as First Lady," Almon added. But a focus almost entirely on improved nutrition and physical activity isn't enough.

Many pediatricians agree. In a report for the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), Dr. Kenneth Ginsberg of the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia described unstructured play as "an exceptional way to increase physical activity levels in children, which is one important strategy in the resolution of the obesity epidemic." The AAP has called for "unorganized outdoor free play" as an important strategy for fighting obesity.

In his studies, Lou Bowers, professor emeritus of physical education at the University of South Florida, has found that free play, unlike organized activities, gives kids the health benefits of exercise - but with little or no prompting. …

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