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Play and Children's Health

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Children need play. It is part of their biological makeup. Without play the human race probably wouldn't have survived so successfully as a species.


More sleep, more play

Children who get more than nine hours and 45 minutes sleep a night have a significantly lower
chance of being obese in later life, according to the University of Michigan. Every additional hour of
sleep each night that a child has at the age of eight or nine, reduces the risk of obesity at age 11 or 12
by 40 per cent. Dr Lumeng who led the research said scientists were not certain how sleep would
directly affect a child's weight, but added that well-rested children are more energetic and more likely
to go out and play, rather than lie around watching TV.

Green Play Settings Reduce ADHD Symptoms
Two surveys of parents of children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity
Disorder have shown that performing activities in green settings can reduce
the symptoms of ADHD. In an initial, Midwestern-based study, parents were
more likely to nominate activities that typically occur in outdoor green
settings as being best for their childs symptoms and those that typically
occur in indoor or non-green outdoor areas as worst. Also, parents rated
their childs symptoms as better on average after activities that occur in
green settings than after activities in non-green settings. In the
subsequent, nation-wide study, activities such as reading or playing sports
were reported as improving childrens symptoms more when performed in
outdoor green settings than in non-green settings.

ADHD affects up to 7% of children. Those afflicted have chronic difficulty
paying attention and focusing on tasks and can be impulsive, outburst-prone,
and sometimes aggressive. These behaviors often result in family conflict,
peer rejection, and academic failure. Current treatments, drugs and
behavioral therapy, do not work in all cases and in many cases offer only
limited relief. Adding trees and greenery near homes and schools and
encouraging kids with ADHD to go outside may help supplement established
treatments to improve functioning.
University of Illinois Human-Environment Research: 

Green Play Settings Reduce ADHD Symptoms. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Landscape and Human Health Laboratory

Play and Health
There is increasing concern about the mental and physical health of children and young people.
At the same time there is growing evidence from among health professionals and researchers that play makes a significant contribution to the fitness and well-being of children.
Research suggests that given the opportunity, children get wide-ranging exercise as well as significant mental health benefits from freely chosen play.
For example:
  •       climbing develops strength, co-ordination, balance and risk-taking ability, as well as confidence and self-esteem;
  •        running and chasing games develop fitness, stamina and agility;
  •        jumping and running develop bone density;
  •        fantasy play can be a way of children making sense of difficult or distressing aspects of their life;
  •       play can be fun and relaxing, a way of relieving or having time away from anxiety and stress.
When playing, children and young people do not have to conform to adult agendas.
Children play instinctively whenever they are given the chance, but not all children choose to, or are able to, participate in sports activities. Given the opportunity, the time, and a stimulating and challenging play environment, most children and young people will engage in beneficial physical activity.

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