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Report: Kids need to get out more

(Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)

"Today's kids spend far less time outside than their parents did. For many of them, tweets are not bird calls but 140-character sound bites. Wii, the electronic game, has replaced "wheee!" -- the squeal of delight."

That's from a new report issued by the National Wildlife Federation, which argues, in short, that kids need to get out more.

Outside, that is.

The report cites study after study supporting the notion that outdoor play is good for kids physically, psychologically, academically and socially. It also offers statistics showing how pathetically little time our children spend outdoors -- and how much they spend inside staring at screens. (Just over 7.5 hours a day in 2009.)

When you're my age, it's easy to wax nostalgic about the good old days when kids left their homes on a summer morning to play in the neighborhood and didn't come home till dusk. Of course, that surely wasn't everyone's reality back then, but in suburbs such as the one I grew up in, everybody -- including non-athletic kids like me -- rode bikes, threw balls, walked dogs, rolled log-wise down the hill, hula-hooped and just plain had fun moving around outdoors. Take a look at one of your elementary-school class photos (that's me, second row from the top, fourth in from the right) and notice how few kids were overweight.

Today it's a different story. Even for someone like myself, who recognizes and values that outdoor time, it can be hard to find space in the schedule for hanging out outdoors, and it's harder than it used to be to relax and assume your kids are safe out there, anyway -- whether those worries are really justified or not.

But the report makes the case that it's well worth trying to squeeze some fresh-air time into the day. It also offers tips for parents who might be bewildered about what to do with the kids once they're out there.

How much time do your kids spend outside? What are your strategies for building that time into their lives?

By Jennifer LaRue Huget  |  August 9, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Childhood obesity , Family Health , General Health , Kids' health , Nutrition and Fitness  
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I found a study last year that associated "more time outdoors" with better vision in kids. Our ancestors did not spend 7 hours a day staring at a screen or anything else 2.5 feet away.

Distant vision? Use it or lose it.

-Steve Parker, M.D.

Posted by: SteveParkerMD | August 9, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: blogger421 | August 9, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

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