What supervised indoor play offers your child

Children playing 'pile on'
Children's play is not only a great learning experience, it also can affect their approach to physical exercise and activities in years to come. We take a look at what play centres could offer your child.
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Indoor play is not only great fun for kids but adventure play centres also provide huge health benefits with youngsters climbing, swinging, jumping, and pulling their way around the exciting play structures. They see it as play but they are in fact gaining 'exercise in disguise'.

Reports from the UK Department of Health show that less than a third of young children are sufficiently active, one in six is obese, and all this is resulting in an alarming rise in ill health and increasing long term costs for the NHS. To add weight to the argument it is predicted that a million children in England will be obese within five years and 50 percent of the whole population will be obese by 2050.

The problem with obesity is twofold. Firstly, the popularity of screen-based entertainment means that as a society, our activity levels are simply not high enough and, secondly, too many children get a poor, inadequately balanced diet. So parents must encourage and support improvement in both of these areas. And when it comes to exercise, this is where the fun-filled visits to indoor play centres come into their own.

Children's play to improve fitness

The benefits of indoor play are vast explains Janice Dunphy, chair of the Play Providers Association (PPA) (playproviders.org.uk), the association representing over 100 operators nationwide. “Kids develop socially, physically and emotionally through play and the PPA has coined the term ‘exercise in disguise’ to describe what our member sites offer. The children are too busy having such fun, that they don’t realise the great benefit it does for their long term health,” says Janice.

As an example, research conducted recently showed that in a two hour play session at one centre children took on average between 6,000 and 8,000 steps (the recommended daily amounts are 12,000 steps a day for a girl and 15,000 steps a day for a boy) which is an astonishing figure. So a lot of calories would be being burnt.

Activities at indoor venues, such as the climbing and the activity walls, use far more energy still, and will importantly aid the development of arm and shoulder muscles in children, thus improving motor skills and coordination which can help with a child’s handwriting, for example.

In today's digital age, it's very easy to lose sight of the short and long term health benefits of physical activity for children. Promoting exercise and healthy living from an early age gives children a better chance of growing into fit and healthy adults.