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Study: Preschoolers need more active playtime outside

January 4, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
Outdoor play is one of the most natural things to do for a young child, but a new report say preschoolers are spending way too much time sitting and not enough time playing.

A study in the Journal of Pediatrics finds three quarters of American children ages 3 to 5 are in some sort of child care.

Researchers talked to the staff at 34 child care centers in Cincinnati, Ohio. They found an emphasis on classroom learning, policies to prevent playground injury, and budgetary constraints meant children were not getting enough physical activity each day.

Pediatric experts recommend preschoolers get 90 to 120 minutes of running, skipping and playing games like tag, and that children be taken outdoors twice a day.

The researcher found that in an eight-hour day, children spent only 2 to 3 percent of their time playing outside. Other reasons for less playing include parents who pushing for more academic learning and place less value on their child's physical development.

Researchers say preschoolers need active play not only to prevent obesity, but to learn social skills such as taking turns, learning to share and negotiating with their peers.