These days the primary goal of most home buyers is to maximize the size of their home, even if it sacrifices outdoor yard space. But how does this affect our children’s outdoor play? A recent Australian study published in Public Health Research & Practice, titled “Associations between the home yard and preschoolers’ outdoor play and physical activity,” discusses the relationship between home yard layout and children’s outdoor play.
The study sampled over 1500 toddlers and preschoolers (2-5 years old). A subsample of parents/guardians reported on various home yard features via questionnaire such as: yard size, lawn quality, natural features and fixed equipment as well as flower and vegetables/herbs present in the yard. Children wore accelerometers to measure the physical activity at home, specifically time spent in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity.
The study found that 88% of families had a lawn and parents/guardians reported that their child played outside for on average 68.9 minutes per day.
Results showed that:
- Every additional 11 m2 of front yard space and 17m2 of backyard space is associated with an additional minute/day of outdoor play
- Every additional type of natural feature (e.g., trees, flowers) and fixed feature (e.g., climbing structures, trampolines, cubby houses) present was associated with an additional 5 and 7 minutes/day of outdoor play, respectively.
- Every one unit increase in perceived lawn quality was associated with an extra 8 minutes/day of outdoor play
These results highlight the potential importance of considering yard quantity and quality when attempting to maximize outdoor play.
The entire article can be read for free at: www.phrp.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/PHRP2911907.pdf.