Navigation Links
'Safety-First' Playgrounds Linked to Bored, Inactive Kids: Study

By Lisa Esposito
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Remember those tall, shiny, metal, sliding boards? They seemed dauntingly steep, but you took the plunge and whizzed downward. Next, you tackled the monkey bars, climbing higher and higher and hanging by your knees at the pinnacle.

Playgrounds are a lot different for today's preschoolers. Low sliding boards, safer plastic climbers and fence-protected platforms are meant to prevent injury. But a preliminary study suggests an unintended result: unenthused, less active kids.

Platforms lead to nowhere, climbers are short and slides are slow. The equipment is easily mastered and kids soon lose interest, daycare providers told researchers in a series of focus groups.

And with increasingly sedentary kids and a worsening childhood obesity epidemic, the study authors said it's time to start balancing safety concerns with the need for vigorous, stimulating play.

Led by Dr. Kristen Copeland, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, the study involved 49 local daycare providers, many highly experienced, at 34 child-care centers. These included inner city, suburban, Head Start and Montessori, church-affiliated, YMCA, worksite- or university-affiliated and corporate/for-profit facilities. Focus groups took place between August 2006 and June 2007.

In the study, appearing online Jan. 4 and in the February issue of Pediatrics, providers described barriers to healthy exercise: state licensing codes and financial constraints that restrict equipment choices, injury concerns and pressures to put class learning above playtime, whether coming from parents or local kindergarten-readiness initiatives.

"We were surprised to hear that parents -- both low-income and upper-income -- were focusing on traditional 'academics' (letters, numbers, colors) instead of outdoor play, even for children as young as 3 years old," Copeland said. "Children learn on the playground -- they learn about nature, weather and the seasons, motion, concepts of distance and speed, and cause and effect. They learn how to negotiate and talk with their peers. And they learn fundamental gross motor skills, like how to throw and catch a ball, and how to skip."

And it's also a case of sluggish bodies make sluggish minds. "Research has shown that children can concentrate and learn better after brief periods of vigorous activity," Copeland noted.

Angela Mickalide, director of research and programs for Safe Kids Worldwide, called the new study "thought-provoking," but said it lacked epidemiologic information on injuries that do occur from playground equipment. "A kid with a traumatic brain injury or fracture is going to be even less active," she noted.

Nearly 220,000 kids aged 14 and under were treated in emergency departments for playground-equipment injuries in 2009, according to a Safe Kids fact sheet. And in children aged 4 and under, most traumatic brain injuries happen on the playground.

Mickalide said that among the most dangerous for young children are "old playgrounds with slides at inclines greater than 45 degrees, climbers that are 8 or 10 feet off the ground, and monkey bars much higher than kids should be on, but without a soft surface underneath."

Safety measures like decreasing equipment height and using protective surfaces like shredded rubber and wood chips in "fall zones" have markedly reduced injury risk, as have state laws requiring conformance to safety guidelines, according to Safe Kids.

It's not always equipment design at issue. Other factors can include "inappropriate behavior on the playground," Mickalide said. "Not playing on soft surfaces. Allowing kids to play on equipment meant for older children. Playing on equipment that gets too hot, or is splintered or damaged. Kids who aren't actively supervised."

When it comes to equipment, less is often more, both experts agreed, and children can get as much out of doing jumping jacks or tossing a ball. "Running and playing games are both healthy and fun," Copeland said.

More information

The National Program for Playground Safety offers tips for parents as well as standards for playground equipment.

SOURCES: Kristen Copeland, M.D., FAAP, assistant professor, pediatrics, and director, primary care fellowship in child and adolescent health, division of general and community pediatrics, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center; Angela Mickalide, Ph.D., MCHES, director, research and programs, Safe Kids Worldwide, Washington, D.C.; February 2012 Pediatrics

Copyright©2010 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved  

Related medicine news :

1. Free UAB service to help parents advocate for safer playgrounds, gyms
2. U-M study shows updated rotavirus vaccine not linked to increase in bowel obstruction
3. Insulin-Linked Hormone May Also Raise Alzheimers Risk
4. Weight Loss Surgery Linked to Fewer Heart Attacks, Deaths
5. Physical activity, school performance may be linked
6. Gestational diabetes and low socioeconomic status linked with increased risk of ADHD in offspring
7. Gene Mutations Linked to Thyroid Cancer Risk: Study
8. Poor sleep linked to increased health and behavior problems in young diabetics
9. PTSD, Respiratory Problems May Be Linked in 9/11 Responders
10. Are Global Market Forces Linked to Obesity Epidemic?
11. Silent Strokes Linked to Memory Loss in Elderly: Study
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
'Safety-First' Playgrounds Linked to Bored, Inactive Kids: Study
(Date:6/27/2016)... ... June 27, 2016 , ... TherapySites, ... today its affiliation with Tennessee Counseling Association. This new relationship allows ... the Tennessee Counseling Association, adding exclusive benefits and promotional offers. , "TCA is ...
(Date:6/27/2016)... ... June 27, 2016 , ... ... to revolutionize the emergency ambulance transport experience for the millions of people who ... Uber has disrupted the taxi industry through the use of technology. Now, SmartEMS ...
(Date:6/26/2016)... ... , ... Quality metrics are proliferating in cancer care, and are derived from ... of the beholder, according to experts who offered insights and commentary in the current ... For the full issue, click here . , For the American Society of ...
(Date:6/26/2016)... ... 2016 , ... Pixel Film Studios Released ProSlice Levels, a Media Slicing Effect ... videos a whole new perspective by using the title layers in ProSlice Levels ... , ProSlice Levels contains over 30 Different presets to choose from. FCPX ...
(Date:6/26/2016)... , ... June 26, 2016 , ... Brent Kasmer, a legally blind and certified personal ... personalized through a fitness app. The fitness app plans to fix the two major problems ... offer a one size fits all type program , They don’t eliminate all ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/26/2016)... -- VMS Rehab Systems, Inc. ( ) reported today ... to build a strong and stable market for trading ... the OTC Markets-pink current trading platform. Explains ... seeing an anomaly in market trading activities that may ... Company, but shareholders and market players as well. I ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... Mass. , June 24, 2016   ... Spaulding Rehabilitation Network,s Dean Center for Tick ... Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, MIT Hacking Medicine, University ... for Innovation, today announced the five finalists of ... for Lyme disease.  More than 100 scientists, clinicians, ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... and SAN CLEMENTE, Calif. , June ... -based mobile pulmonary function testing company, is now able to ... devices developed by ndd Medical Technologies , Inc. ... done in hospital-based labs.  Thanks to ndd,s EasyOne PRO ® , ... , can get any needed testing done in the comfort of ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: