Dirt, Depression, and Childhood Obesity: Why Kids Need More Time Outside
It’s safe to say that technology has a grip on the youth like never before. From iPads to cell phones, it is safe to say our children are growing up in a world vastly different than we did. With so much time spent in front of screens, and with physical education in schools being cut across the country, our kids also face increased health deficits.
Childhood obesity alone as more than tripled since the 1970’s, disproportionately affecting lower-income communities and children of color. One study found that the chances of a child being obese or overweight more than tripled from 20% to over 60% if they lived in an area where poor housing, unsafe surroundings and limited access to parks and recreation centers were common. Childhood obesity leads to a variety of associated illnesses both physical and mental in nature.
From birth up to about 8 years of age, the human body undergoes the most rapid physical development in our lifespan. Having time outside running around and playing is key to this development and integration of new motor pathways within the body.
Studies have shown that increased physical activity in preschool-aged children had significant benefits for the development of both motor skills and cognitive function. In addition to the