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ABCs and No Skinned Knees: Study Reveals Various Barriers to Physical Activity in Child Care
Date:5/5/2009

rounds unchallenging and uninteresting to children, and a lack of indoor play space and equipment that would foster activity when children had to stay inside on rainy, cold or extremely hot days. Tight center operating margins and the expense of equipment and upkeep severely limited the indoor and outdoor opportunities that many centers could offer children.

According to the most recent statistics, 74 percent of US children aged 3-6 years are in some form of non-parental child care. Fifty-six percent of 3-6 year old children spend time in centers, including child-care centers and preschools. Dr. Copeland's team conducted focus groups with 49 staff members from 34 child-care centers in the Cincinnati area including Montessori, Head Start and centers in the inner city and suburban areas to get a better idea of why children weren't involved in physical activity during the school day.

Center staff had several creative suggestions for increasing physical activity, including partnering with a landscaping architect to put more shrubs and hills on the center's property to encourage children's climbing; placing a wooden dance floor in the school playroom to encourage dancing; offering workshops that teach child care providers fun games to play with children outside; and encouraging sporadic movement during the day, such as small music breaks when children can get up and move along to songs.

"Many children spend long hours in child-care, and some do not have safe places to play outdoors at home, so for many children, the child care center is their only opportunity to be active," Dr. Copeland says. "But the typical things we think should be on a playground -- such as climbers and jungle gyms -- can be very expensive and essentially cost-prohibitive for many child care centers. Those centers that could afford climbers found that their children quickly mastered them and became bored with them. If the goal is to increase phys
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SOURCE Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center
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