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Play Creatively as a Kid, Be a Healthier Adult

Grown-ups need to stop restricting kids' activity, researcher says

WEDNESDAY, April 14 (HealthDay News) -- Children who engage in creative and active play may grow up to be healthier adults, suggests a British study.

The finding comes from a study that involved 505 young adults who provided information about their health and their childhood play experiences. Four types of play were found to be associated in different ways with adult health, said the University of Ulster researchers.

Higher levels of creative play in childhood predicted good adult health habits, such as eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise. More active play in childhood was associated with better overall health and more exercise in adulthood.

Adults who had restrictions on play -- such as less time to play -- were more likely to be overweight and have less healthy lifestyles.

"Having the freedom and opportunity to play is important for all aspects of child development and is a right that is often overlooked," study author Tony Cassidy said in a news release from the British Psychological Society. "It is something that most children want to do, and do naturally, but its importance is not always recognized by adults, particularly policymakers."

"For all sorts of reasons, our society has restricted child play," he added. "To remove restrictions and reverse a potentially damaging trend requires a change in attitudes across adult society."

The study was to be presented April 14 at the society's annual conference.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians offers tips for healthy children and families.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: British Psychological Society, news release, April 14, 2010

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