A recent study of child care centers has revealed that kids are more active when early childhood teachers play with them; such results would probably be similar at home with parents. In classrooms where adults did not participate in the exercise, children had, on average, a half-hour less active time than their peers in classrooms where adults were involved.

The researchers recommend allowing kids more time to be physically active. Lauren Olsho, co-author of the study and a senior health economist with the research firm Abt Associates, said, "Especially for these very young kids, teachers are the main gatekeepers to physical activity during child care. They are the ones who control when and how many times the children go outdoors to play each day. Just being outside with enough space and freedom to run around makes a huge difference."

Part of the problem is that bad weather often limits young children's movement. On average, children lose more than one hour of active time due to it. On the other hand, the American Academy of Pediatrics explains that physical activity improves kids' body development, cardiovascular health, and bone density. Moreover, it is linked to lower rates of depression and smoking, among other benefits.

Given that millions of kids in many countries spend much of their time in childcare settings, it's important to ensure they are physically active. Children have a natural need to move and jump, which should be encouraged by providing them with enough opportunities to do so. “Kids who are less active not only have poorer physical fitness and coordination and higher rates of obesity but also shorter attention spans and poorer cognitive development,” Olsho said.

Other previous studies on this subject have found that kids are much more active during the first few minutes of outdoor play sessions. This is why multiple, short, and active sessions spread throughout the day are much better than long and boring ones. Keep it ACTIVE, FUN... and efficient!

Picture: Olivia climbing (ChildUp.com)