Kids who are allowed to visit friends and go shopping on their own are more active, according to a new study. Researchers at the University of Bristol tracked the movements of 1,307 children using GPS technology.
They also asked the pupils, aged ten and 11 from 23 schools, to complete a questionnaire about how much freedom they were given to travel outside the home unsupervised by their parents. Participants said they were never, sometimes, often or always allowed to go to local shops, a big shopping centre, park or playground, sports centre, swimming pool, library, school, cinema, friend's house, amusement arcade, bus stop or train station.
The researchers found that both boys and girls given greater freedoms were much more active on weekdays than those closely watched by adults. "This is the first study to show that freedom to move around unsupervised in the local and wider neighbourhood is directly related to how physically active children are,” the Scotsman quoted Dr Ashley Cooper, senior investigator on the study, as saying.
"These findings suggest that giving children more independence to move outside is related to greater levels of physical activity, which is important for health. "But we also know that parents restrict how much independence they give their children for very good safety reasons. "More work now needs to be done so we can discover how to get that balance right," Cooper added.
The study was published in the International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity.