Health Australia’s vanishing childhood haunts

Australia’s vanishing childhood haunts

Remember your old back-yard cubby house?

Turns out it may have been vital to your early childhood development.

But higher density cities mean many kids today are missing out.

Research from The University of Western Australia shows basic backyard equipment like sandpits, swings and cubby houses encourage outdoor play in pre-schoolers.

The results suggest more such simple structures should be included in high density development to address an emerging gap in outdoor play time among young children.

National guidelines recommend pre-schoolers spend at least three hours per day being physically active, but the University’s research suggests only about a third meet this target. One in five are now considered overweight or obese.

Lead researcher Hayley Christian says replicating the simple backyard-style play spaces many of us remember from our own childhood may help improve the health of our toddlers.

“The main factor associated with increased playtime [outside] was the number of fixed play structures, with each additional piece of equipment adding an average of five minutes to a child’s daily playtime,” Dr Christian says.

“The inclusion of accessible child-friendly spaces and equipment in high-density developments is an important consideration because many homes have limited or no private outdoor space.”

Data was gathered by studying the home-based outdoor play of nearly 1600 Perth pre-schoolers on days when they were not in childcare.

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