With the school holidays well underway, a new report from Public Health Wales has revealed that while almost all parents in Wales (97 per cent) think it is important for their child to play outdoors every day, nearly a third of children under-five (29 per cent) aren’t getting the time outdoors that they need.
The recommendation from Public Health Wales is to give children the chance to play outdoors every day with children under five who are able to walk having at least three hours of active play per day.
The survey was carried out earlier this year as part of Every Child Wales, Public Health Wales’ new programme to improve the health and wellbeing of children under five.
Every Child Wales recognises the importance of outdoor play as part of 10 steps to a healthy weight. Children who are active and play from a young age are more likely to be active as they get older and more likely to be a healthy weight.
The benefits of outdoor play do not stop there. Being active outside also helps children develop mentally and emotionally.
Children who have regular opportunities for playing outdoors are more likely to engage well with others, learning complex social skills and conflict resolution. Playful children have been found to show greater problem-solving abilities, imagination and creativity.
To help parents, Every Child Wales has lots of tips and inexpensive ways to get children playing outdoors whatever the weather.
Dr Julie Bishop, Director of Health Improvement for Public Health Wales said:
“Playing outdoors every day is a great way to help your child grow into a fit and healthy adult and will encourage them to stay active beyond their childhood.
“Time outside is a wonderful way to spend quality time with your child as well as being a great stress reliever from the busy life of a parent.”
In support of Every Child Wales, Marianne Mannello, Play Wales’ Assistant Director said:
“Play Wales welcomes the recognition of the importance of children’s play by Public Health Wales, by including outdoor play as part of Every Child Wales and the 10 steps to a healthy weight.
“There is increasing concern about the mental and physical health of children and young people. Research suggests that given the opportunity, children get wide-ranging exercise as well as a significant mental health benefits from freely chosen play.
“Children start their active lives through play. When given the opportunity to play, children are likely to be physically active by running, jumping, dancing, climbing, digging, lifting, pushing and pulling. For children, play can also be fun and relaxing, a way of relieving or having time away from anxiety and stress.”
Marianne advises that:
“Playing is a vital dimension of a happy and healthy childhood. It contributes to the wellbeing and resilience of human beings – particularly children. Having welcoming places, enough time and the company of others to play with every day is of great consequence to all children and young people – as adults we need to foster environments that support this.”