Want to get active? Just get outside!

The 2015 ParticipACTION Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth included a position statement on outdoor active play that recommended increasing children’s opportunities for outdoor play. In short, parents, teachers, caregivers, and policy makers need to get out of the way and let kids play.

A new study by Dr. Richard Larouche examined the effect of additional outdoor time on physical activity, sedentary behaviour, and health indictors for children aged 7-14 years. On average, children and youth reported an average of 2.3 hours of outdoor time per day, and accumulated an average of 59 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity, 11,301 steps, and 8.3 hours of sedentary time.

Increased outdoor time was associated with increased physical activity, decreased sedentary time, and better psychosocial health. Specifically, each additional hour spent outside is associated with:

  • 7 additional minutes of heart pumping moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity
  • 762 additional steps
  • 13 minutes of less sedentary behaviour
  • Better scores for measures of peer relationships and overall psychosocial difficulties

Take home message

Getting outside is associated with increased physical activity, decreased sedentary time, and better psychosocial health. This was true for both boys and girls. Future research should focus on predictors of increased outdoor time (e.g., physical environment, parental behaviours).  

 

Article title: Outdoor time, physical activity, sedentary time, and health indicators at ages 7 to 14: 2012/2013 Canadian Health Measures Survey

Authors: Richard Larouche, Didier Garriguet, Katie E. Gunnell, Gary S. Goldfield and Mark S. Tremblay

Link to article abstract (from Health Reports)