KidActive Says Active Outdoor Play - With Its Risks - Is Good For Kids

Tue, 06/09/2015 - 11:44 -- admin
photo of kids sitting in a circle

KidActive supports the Position Statement on Active Outdoor Play released today in concert with the 2015 ParticipACTION Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth. The evidence-informed Statement was developed and is supported by the Healthy Active Living and Obesity Research Group at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute (HALO-CHEO), ParticipACTION and a group of 12 other organizations, including KidActive, and was reviewed and edited by over 1,600 stakeholders from across Canada and around the world. It finds that access to active play in nature and outdoors – with its risks – is essential for healthy child development.

According to the Position Statement and ParticipACTION Report Card, over-supervising kids or keeping them indoors to ensure they are safe limits their opportunities for physical activity, endangering their long-term health. Despite research showing kids are more likely to be physically active when playing outdoors and less likely to engage in higher levels of physical activity if a supervising adult is present, safety concerns lead to excessive supervision and keeping kids indoors. While some outdoor activities are risky and could lead to injuries, the vast majority are minor, so it’s time to consider getting out of kids’ way to let them play.

“We have lost the balance between short-term safety and long-term health. In outdoor play, risk doesn’t mean courting danger, but rather giving kids the freedom to assess their surroundings and make decisions, allowing them to build confidence, develop skills, solve problems and learn limits,” says Dr. Mark Tremblay, Chief Scientific Officer, ParticipACTION Report Card, and Director of HALO-CHEO. “Kids move more when they are outside, have some freedom to roam unsupervised and engage fully with their environments, which will set them up to be more resilient and less likely to develop chronic diseases in the long run.”

The Position Statement on Outdoor Active Play and Report Card findings support KidActive’s mandate to increase active outdoor play, learning outside and active transportation for every child in Canada. It provides our initiatives, community development, programs and policy work across Ontario with a strong evidence base.

“We know children need a minimum of 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity for healthy development. We also now know that children are more active, mentally, socially and physically healthier and happier when they play and learn outside, in natural spaces.” says Shawna Babcock, Executive Director, KidActive.

Two of the lowest grades in the Report Card this year are a D- for Sedentary Behaviours and a D- for Overall Physical Activity. It finds that child and youth physical activity levels remain alarmingly low, with only nine per cent of five- to 17-year-olds meeting the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines of 60 minutes per day of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity.

“In order to help ensure Canadian children get enough heart-pumping activity, we need to recognize that they are competent and capable to go out and explore on their own or with friends,” says Elio Antunes, President and CEO, ParticipACTION. “This will also allow them to have more fun and learn how to manage and assess risks independently. Children move more, sit less and play longer in self-directed outdoor play, so the biggest risk is keeping our kids supervised indoors.”

The Position Statement includes recommendations directed at parents, educators and caregivers, health professionals, injury prevention professionals, school and child care administrators, media, attorneys general, governments and society at large to help increase all children’s opportunities for self-directed play outdoors.

To download the 2015 ParticipACTION Report Card Highlight Report, including the Position Statement, or the 58-page Full Report, please visit

Founded in 2008, KidActive works to support every child’s healthy development, healthier communities and a strong connection to the natural environment. Our programs, resources and policy work works to increase access to supportive environments and improve every child’s opportunity for increased outdoor active play, learning outside, and active transportation. We reach over 2500 children and youth each year, support multi-sector community leaders and work with more than 27 communities across Ontario to build healthier communities where every child can play, live and learn outside for at least 60-90 minutes every day.

Shawna Babcock
Publication Date: 
Tuesday, June 9, 2015