Experts boost active campaign

More experts have leant their support to the BTHA?s ongoing campaign to promote the toy industry?s involvement in active play for children>Len Almond, director of the British Heart ...
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More experts have leant their support to the BTHA?s ongoing campaign to promote the toy industry?s involvement in active play for children.

Len Almond, director of the British Heart Foundation National Centre for Physical Activity and Health, together with Professor Jeffrey Goldstein from the National Toy Council, addressed attendees at Toy Fair, and stressed that activity toys should not be undervalued.

They were also joined by Olympic rowing champion James Cracknell who leant his support.

Current activity levels for children fall below the recommended minimum of one hour a day. Research has shown that play accounts for the highest proportion of children and young people's physical activity. Such unstructured activity provides numerous opportunities to burn calories and compares favourably to PE lessons in terms of intensity.

Almond explains: "A simple ball game burns around 2.5 calories per minute. During an average PE lesson, children can burn around three calories per minute. They are both important, intensive activities but the evidence shows that children spend three times as many minutes `free playing' than participating in PE and games lessons. This means that by increasing active play, something that children clearly enjoy, we can impact greatly on their energy expenditure."

Professor Jeffrey Goldstein from the National Toy Council added: "It is true there are fewer opportunities for active play than in the past. There are less urban play spaces available and children have less freedom and more restrictions. But many toys, with a little imagination and creativity, can provide opportunities to stimulate children. It is important to allow children to create their own environment using toys and allow them to be adventurous. This is essential to their social and intellectual well being and teaches them to become more independent."

To offer parental guidance, the National Toy Council launched a new leaflet at Toy Fair entitled Active Play and Health offering tips and information and examples of activity toys that help increase levels of physical activity in children. It is also available from the BTHA website.

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