Independent children are more active

By Jessica Brandi • Published: May 13th, 2009
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Parents will always have trouble letting go. Whether it’s a solo walk to the neighbor’s house or an O-K on a cross-country trip with a friend’s family, it’s never easy to shake those protective instincts. But something as simple as allowing your kids to walk to school might help get them off the couch and away from the T-V.

Fears about safety and parents’ desire to stay close to their children means they spend very little time outside of the home unsupervised. And when they do leave home, they travel by car. A recent British study has found that allowing your kids to move around on their own encourages social interaction, cognitive development and a healthier, more active lifestyle.

Published in the January International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, the study followed a little over a thousand seven boys and girls ages ten to eleven from a large city in Britain. The researchers gave each child an accelerometer, a device used to track their daily activity, and asked them how often they were allowed out of the house alone and with friends.

The study found that overall, boys had more independent mobility than girls. And the more freedom children had, the more likely they were to be physically active on weekdays.

So the next time they want to take a walk down the street, you may want to keep an open mind. Consider coming up with a safe strategy to give your kids some room to roam.