November 22, 2010

Why healthy families (big & small) need to play

All families need to play, whether they have two kids or 18. In honor of Big Amazing Family Week, Discovery Health is partnering with KaBOOM! to spread the word about the vital importance of play to a child’s physical and mental health. Here are four reasons why all families, big and small, need to make sure that their children have ample time to play:

  1. Play combats childhood obesity. It intrinsically involves aerobic, muscle strengthening, and bone strengthening activities. According to the CDC, children and adolescents need an hour or more of physical activity each day. However, almost one in four children does not participate in any free-time physical activity, and the average child now spends 7.5 hours per day with electronic media. The number of overweight children has doubled in the last 20 years, while the number of over-weight teens has tripled.
  2. Play is crucial to a child’s cognitive development. Clinically diagnosable mental health problems amongst children are dramatically increasing and have been linked to declining opportunities for creative, interactive play. The CDC reports that 4.5 million children (5-17) have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder; diagnoses of depression and anxiety disorders are also on the rise.
  3. Outdoor play ensures that kids get enough Vitamin D. Beyond the risk of developing weak bones and even rickets, not getting enough Vitamin D often goes hand-in-hand with higher blood pressure and lower levels of good cholesterol, and may increase a child's risk of developing heart disease later in life, experts say. Shockingly, 70 percent of American kids aren't getting enough vitamin D.
  4. Play and physical activity stimulate the brain. A government review of research shows that children who take breaks from classwork to be physically active during the school day are often better able to concentrate on their school work and may do better on standardized tests.

You can catch a PSA for KaBOOM!’s Save Play campaign if you tune into Discovery Health during this Thanksgiving week of special programming. Click here for show times.

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