Study finds that children who play outside with friends after school are more physically activity

Remember those long hours of freedom after school? When you were a kid, how did you spend that time? Were you with an adult? Inside? Outside? With friends?

Whether due to safety concerns or new technology, more and more of today’s children seem to spend their after-school playtime inside under the watchful eyes of adults. But this type of play limits children’s physical activity.

A new study of 10 and 11 year olds in the United Kingdom, found that children who spend their after school hours outside with friends get more moderate to vigorous physical activity.

In the study published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, children reported how they spent their time and wore accelerometers to measure their physical activity. The study found that children spent most of their time inside with a parent or adult. Children were alone were mostly sedentary. Children who were indoors with friends or adults experienced some, but not a lot of physical activity. Only when children went outside to play with friends were they significantly active.

This is what we’re talking about! The great outdoors is a place of fun, sunshine, fresh air and adventures. When children head outside to play, they meet up with friends, run around and make memories that last a lifetime.

This study is must one more reason to let your child play. Let your childhood memories of great after-school play and studies like these overcome your fear of their safety. Just review a few basic safety rules with your child and his or her friends and go over the physical boundaries of their playspace, then kick them (figuratively) out the door to play!

More Resources


May 9, 2018

Designing an Inclusive Recess ›

How might we help all kids feel included at recess? Part of the answer will always be students who lead by example. But inclusion is also a recess design challenge. Small changes have a big impact on recess culture. At Playworks, we look at everything from the lines on the blacktop to how students play…

March 15, 2018

Recess in the rain… and snow… and… ›

Whether it’s snow, rain, smog, or cold, weather can put a wrench in recess. Playworks is here to help. This toolkit draws on our 20 years of experience on playgrounds and is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Kids need physical activity every day, and they are healthier when they get to play outdoors. Fresh air, sunlight,…

February 1, 2018

The Rise of the Recess Team ›

At an elementary school outside of Sacramento, CA, the recess team clusters around four different pieces of butcher paper, drawing maps for TK kindergarten, primary, and upper-grade recesses and for the after-school program recreation time. This is the second day of a two-day recess deep dive, and the group is taking a fresh look at…