Parks Add Options for Kids' Exercise, Study Finds

Certain features of outdoor spaces help cut sedentary indoor time, Australian researchers say

FRIDAY, March 4 (HealthDay News) -- Children are more likely to be physically active if they have good parks and playgrounds in their neighborhoods, researchers report.

The study authors asked the parents of 171 nine-year-old children to give their opinions about outdoor public spaces in their neighborhoods and to estimate the amount of time their children spent watching television, using the computer and playing video games.

The Australian researchers, from the Center for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research at Deakin University, also conducted their own assessment of local outdoor public spaces and how sedentary the children were outside of school hours.

The more satisfied parents were with the quality of their neighborhood parks and playgrounds, the less time their children spent engaging in sedentary activities such as watching television and using computers.

Among the specific findings: children who lived near a large public open space with a water feature and those who lived on a cul-de-sac spent less time in front of the television or computer than those who had a walking path in the park closest to their home.

The study was released online in advance of publication in an upcoming print issue of the journal Annals of Behavioral Medicine.

These findings highlight "the complexity of designing communities to meet the needs of residents across the life-course," Jenny Veitch and colleagues concluded in a news release from the journal's publisher.

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more about kids and exercise.

Robert Preidt SOURCE: Annals of Behavioral Medicine, news release, Feb. 21, 2011

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