Go Play Outside! Outdoor Time Promotes Physical Activity in Youth

Cincinnati, OH, July 10, 2014

The World Health Organization recommends that youth participate in a minimum of 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) each day. Studies have shown that youth experience most of their MVPA during school hours. Therefore, it stands to reason that increasing outdoor time after school hours would increase MVPA. In a new study scheduled for publication in The Journal of Pediatrics, researchers confirmed that time spent outdoors after school was positively associated with MVPA.

Drs. Lee Schaefer and Jonathan McGavock, along with colleagues at the University of Alberta, studied 306 youths (9-17 years of age) enrolled in the Healthy Hearts Prospective Cohort Study of Physical Activity and Cardiometabolic Health. During the winter and spring of the 2008/2009 academic year, participants wore an accelerometer and completed an online survey that included a self-report of time spent outdoors after school, including organized activities and free play.

The results showed that youth who reported that they did not spend time outdoors after school (17%) achieved 21 fewer minutes of MVPA daily, with an additional 70 minutes per day of sedentary behavior compared with those who reported spending most of their time outdoors after school (39%). In general, youth who spent most of their time outdoors after school were three times more likely to meet guidelines for daily physical activity and had significantly higher cardiorespiratory fitness levels than their peers who did not spend time outdoors; the positive effects of outdoor activity held true even in the winter months.

Although this study found that 34% of youth achieved the recommended 60 minutes of MVPA each day, more work is needed. These findings support calls for promoting outdoor activities as a means of increasing MVPA in youth. Because youth spend a substantial amount of time in school, school wellness policies should include plans designed to increase outdoor activity. According to Dr. Schaefer, “Schools and parents should consider structured time outdoors for children in an effort to boost physical activity levels and enhance [cardiorespiratory] fitness.”

---

Notes for editors
“Outdoor Time Is Associated with Physical Activity, Sedentary Time, and Cardiorespiratory Fitness in Youth,” by Lee Schaefer, PhD, Ronald C. Plotnikoff, PhD, Sumit R. Majumdar, MD, MPH, Rebecca Mollard, PhD, Meaghan Woo, BSc, Rashik Sadman, Randi Lynn Rinaldi, MSc, Normand Boule, PhD, Brian Torrance, MSc, Geoff D.C. Ball, PhD, RD, Paul Veugelers, PhD, Paul Wozny, EdD, Linda McCargar, PhD, Shauna Downs, MSc, Richard Lewanczuk, MD, PhD, Douglas Gleddie, PhD, and Jonathan McGavock, PhD, appears in The Journal of Pediatrics, DOI 10.1016/j.jpeds.2014.05.029, published by Elsevier.

About The Journal of Pediatrics
The Journal of Pediatrics is a primary reference for the science and practice of pediatrics and its subspecialties. This authoritative resource of original, peer-reviewed articles oriented toward clinical practice helps physicians stay abreast of the latest and ever-changing developments in pediatric medicine. The Journal of Pediatrics is ranked 4th out of 121 pediatric medical journals (2012 Journal Citation Reports®, published by Thomson Reuters).

About Elsevier

Elsevier is a world-leading provider of information solutions that enhance the performance of science, health, and technology professionals, empowering them to make better decisions, deliver better care, and sometimes make groundbreaking discoveries that advance the boundaries of knowledge and human progress. Elsevier provides web-based, digital solutions — among them ScienceDirect, Scopus, Elsevier Research Intelligence,and ClinicalKey—and publishes over 2,200 journals, including The Lancet and Cell, and over 25,000 book titles, including a number of iconic reference works.

The company is part of Reed Elsevier Group PLC, a world leading provider of professional information solutions in the Science, Medical, Legal and Risk and Business sectors, which is jointly owned by Reed Elsevier PLC and Reed Elsevier NV. The ticker symbols are REN (Euronext Amsterdam), REL (London Stock Exchange), RUK and ENL (New York Stock Exchange).

Media contact
Becky Lindeman
+1 513 636 7140
journal.pediatrics@cchmc.org