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The importance of outdoor play

Growing up in rural Northamptonshire my happiest memories involve my vast outdoor playground. 

Climbing trees in the “back field”, making dens outside, riding my bike around the village, rollerskating,

hide and seek, daisy chains, handstands in our front gardens, flower pressing with wild flowers and making our own perfume concoctions  …..

Coming to live in London to work at the age of 21 I couldn’t believe my London born and bred new friend had never seen a tractor or cow in a field!  That's not an experience I want for my children.

So having my son’s grow up in very different traffic busy, road lined environment, I’m very conscious they shouldn’t miss out on the opportunities that I took for granted as a child. 

They can't just get on their bike and cycle up and down the road unsupervised like I did as a child, or run over to the park by themselves - the traffic is too busy. However we have a beautiful park around the corner and it just requires a little more effort on my behalf.

 

An active start

The government’s Department of Health advocates that children under 5 should be completing a minimum of 3 hours exercise a day in their report Start Active, Stay Active (2011).

Shocking figures from the NHS predict that 63% of children aged four or five will be overweight or obese by 2050.  Figures in Greenwich show that 14% of five year olds are classed as obese during their Reception year, five percent above the national average of 9%.

Sport, nature and promoting healthy living and eating are at the heart of More2childcare.  Whilst three hours of exercise a day might seem daunting the study notes children are already active on average for 120-150 minutes a day.  So a relatively small increase is required of 30-60 minutes per day.

At More2childcare children will participate in our ABC FUNdamentals programme with ProInfinity sports and have regular access to our two outdoor areas.  In every room with mobile children we will support this additional physical activity whether that be dancing, hoola hooping, running races, skipping, chasing games or riding a tricycle.  For babies and children unable to walk “tummy time” will be a good alternative.  Children at this early age will also be encouraged to reach for and grasp objects, pulling pushing and playing with other people.

Benefits of early physical activity
Encouraging physical activity in babies helps them to develop motor skills, improves cognitive development, contributes to a healthy weight, enhances bone and muscular development and supports learning of social skills.

And for young children who are starting to walk, they benefit from improved cardiovascular health, a healthy weight, improved bone health, support with learning of social skills and developing movement and coordination.

Working together we can all help bring down those alarming obesity statistics across the Royal Borough of Greenwich. And exercise can become fun and a natural part of every day life for our children.

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