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PLAY­ING TO GET FIT

- Lifestyle · Healthy Living · Parenting · Family · Denmark · World Health Organization · Fun (band) · University of Southern Denmark

KEEP­ING fit has be­come a ma­jor topic of con­ver­sa­tion since lock­down, with both adults and kids turn­ing to on­line ex­er­cise classes. But keep­ing it up now that we have more chance to get out and about is harder.

As schools re­open, PE may be more dif­fi­cult if so­cial dis­tanc­ing has to be kept up. Other places where we can ex­er­cise, such as swim­ming pools, are still a worry for some peo­ple. But now re­searchers have found that the so­lu­tion to a healthy lifestyle may be only a cou­ple of streets away.

The Univer­sity of South­ern Den­mark re­cently pub­lished a report on what works to en­cour­age chil­dren to be ac­tive in play­grounds. The re­searchers looked at new play­grounds in three schools that showed that a mix­ture of courts, swings, marked-out games, climb­ing bars, trails and balanc­ing equip­ment re­sulted in more ac­tiv­ity from both girls and boys. As chil­dren play in dif­fer­ent ways, it was im­por­tant to have dif­fer­ent ar­eas and a range of ob­jects to en­cour­age play. Dance ar­eas, mir­rors, loud­speak­ers and video screens also of­fered more chances of each child find­ing some­thing to get them in­volved. The re­searchers be­lieve they can now sug­gest bet­ter ways to de­sign play­grounds so more chil­dren will get the ben­e­fit of ac­tiv­ity.

The World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion recommends that 60 min­utes of mod­er­ate to vig­or­ous ex­er­cise a day will help to keep kids healthy and re­duce the risk of obe­sity. It also helps to im­prove learn­ing and is a mood booster. Bet­ter de­signed play­grounds may not be the com­plete an­swer, but as a way of get­ting chil­dren more ac­tive they are much more fun.

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