Can Playground ‘Zoning’ Make Kids More Active? | Athletic Business

Can Playground ‘Zoning’ Make Kids More Active?

Active kids are healthy kids. This is a well-known fact, and an important justification for what most grade school students would call their favorite period of the school day – recess.

But despite being given the opportunity for play, some students are still sedentary or at least not getting enough physical activity during the day.

New research from the University of Missouri indicates that zoning playgrounds for specific games can help to improve physical activity among children, boosting the chances of them achieving the recommended 60 minutes of play per day. More activity can provide numerous benefits.

“Past research has proven that activity helps academic performance,” Jill Barnas, a doctoral student at MU said in a release. “By reworking traditional recess games to be more vigorous, children are able to increase their physical activity in a really easy way, improving their health and doing better in school.” 

Playground zoning involves dividing the existing recess area into activity-specific “zones.” Traditional recess games like basketball or kickball are reworked to maximize physical activity. Kickball, for example, can be tweaked to eliminate or reduce the downtime of waiting in line, so children can kick and run more often.

Researchers implemented the playground zones, and tracked participants’ activity through accelerometers. They then compared the data generated by participants’ on a zoned playground to data from kids using a traditional playground.

The results indicated a significant increase in physical activity among kids playing on a zoned playground.

“Recess is the best way for young children to be active,” said Stephen Bell, associate professor of nutrition and exercise physiology. “Through playground zoning, schools can ensure that children are achieving maximum benefits during their recess period.”

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