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Risky outdoor play positively impacts children’s health

Risky outdoor play positively impacts children’s health
November 15, 2015

New research from the University of British Columbia (UBC) and the Child & Family Research Institute at the British Columbia Children’s Hospital shows that risky outdoor play is not only good for children’s health but also encourages creativity, social skills and resilience.

The findings, published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, found that children who participated in physical activity such as climbing and jumping, rough and tumble play and exploring alone, displayed greater physical and social health.

Mariana Brussoni, lead author of the study, and assistant professor in UBC’s School of Population and Public Health and Department of Pediatrics explained “we found that play environments where children could take risks promoted increased play time, social interactions, creativity and resilience.

“These positive results reflect the importance of supporting children’s risky outdoor play opportunities as a means of promoting children’s health and active lifestyles.”

Playgrounds that offer natural elements such as trees and plants, changes in height, and freedom for children to engage in activities of their own choosing, have positive impacts on health, behaviour and social development.

Brussoni, also a scientist in the British Columbia Injury Research & Prevention Unit at the Child & Family Research Institute at BC Children’s Hospital, added “these spaces give children a chance to learn about risk and learn about their own limits.”

Safety concerns, such as injury, were seen as the main reason for limiting risky outdoor play. Researchers found that playground safety standards and too much supervision prevented children from engaging in risky activities.

Brussoni concluded “monitoring children’s activities may be a more appropriate approach than active supervision, particularly for older children.

“We recommend considering policy, practice and built environment approaches to risky outdoor play that balance safety with children’s other health outcomes.”

Click here to go to the website of the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

Image: Children who engage in risky outdoor play see greater physical and social health benefits. Courtesy: Flickr

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