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Lydia Linke
Washington State University
Vancouver, WA 98685


October 4, 2015
Nik Lightfoot, Ed.D., J.D.
Assistant Superintendents & Director of Administrative Services
Harley Hopkins Family Center
Hopkins, Minnesota
Lydia Linke, Senior in Biology
Washington State University
Proposal for more time outdoors


The purpose of this memo is to describe the research that was done to assess
preschool childrens activity level during outdoor play at Harley Hopkins Family
Center. The goal of this research was to discover if there was an increase in physical
activity for preschool aged children, during outdoor play as compared to indoor


Childhood obesity is a growing problem in the United States. According to the Mayo
Clinic, the leading cause of childhood obesity is decreased physical activity and
increased calories consumed (Mayo Clinic, 2012). This memo contains an overview
of the research methods, results, and conclusions of outdoor play compared to
indoor play for the preschool children of Harley Hopkins Family Center.

The Harley Hopkins Family Center preschoolers were split evenly into two
categories; outdoor play group and indoor play group. A pedometer was strapped to
the ankle of each preschooler for 30 minutes during the designated indoor or
outdoor play time period. After five days, the results showed that there was a
significant increase in steps for preschoolers in the outdoor group compared to the
indoor group. The conclusion that can be made from this research is that
preschoolers have an increase in activity when they play outside compared to when
they play inside. The ramifications of this study may be helpful in increasing health
and decreasing childhood obesity.


Childhood obesity is becoming a major problem in America. Children are becoming
less and less active, and according to research, children spend significantly less time
outdoors than their mothers (Clements, 2004). Currently between 16 to 25 percent
of children and adolescents in America are obese (Rathus, 2014). Decreased outdoor

play has created decreased physical fitness, increased weight gain, and increased
nearsightedness (Cleland et al., 2008; Ludvigsso et al., 2007; Rose et al., 2008).
In order to increase time outdoors, I propose that Harley Hopkins Family Center
schedule more outdoor free play into their daily schedule of activities. The increased
time outdoors will not only give preschoolers a healthier more active lifestyle, but
will also help increase environmental awareness.

Previous research has shown schools that promote outdoor activities have a higher
percentage of children with decrease B.M.I levels and waist circumference. In 2007,
six preschools in Sweden were survyed to measure herdity, exercise, and eating
habits for a year. Preschool students who watched more T.V than their outdoor
counterparts had a significantly higher B.M.I and a larger waist circumference
(Ludvigsso et al., 2007; Rose et al., 2008).

Also, a study in Melbourne, Australia was done with a random selection of 19 grade
schools. The study found that over three years, encouraging students to go outside
increased their physical activity and decreased their propensity to be overweight
(Cleland et al., 2008).

Research Methods

A five day study was done in order to discover whether or not children who played
outdoors had increased physical activity. A group of 40 children were split into two
groups, outdoor and indoor. The childrens activity level was measured using a
pedometer. The amount of steps taken by the child directly corresponded to their
activity level.

Task 1. Consent forms obtained

Consent forms were signed by parents or legal guardians of the children who
participated. These consent forms detailed the protocols, equipment, and duration
of the research completed.

Task 2. Collected data for indoor and outdoor designated groups for the
Preschoolers at Harley Hopkins Activity Center.

Once a day, for 30 minutes, a pedometer was put around the ankle of both the
indoor and outdoor designated groups. The schedule and activities of both groups
were kept the same, except for the designated period of free play. The indoor
children were kept in a large play room, and the outdoor children were sent outside,
in a designated play area. The amount of steps for each child in both groups were

Task 3. Limit access to multimedia interactions during free time

Limiting screen time for preschool aged children will enable them to become more
proactive with their play and will help them create their own entertainment. Since
screen time is usually an indoor activity, limiting screen time will help eliminate the
draw for indoor play.

Task 4. Analyze data collected from indoor and outdoor designated groups.

After the five day period the data was analyzed. The average and standard deviation
were taken for both groups. In order to account for gender differences, boys and
girls were analyzed both seperately and together. The two groups were then
compared with a two tailed students T-Test.


In this section, I will discuss the results that I found from both the outdoor and
indoor groups of children. All results are fictional and idealized, as no actual
research was done, however previous research indicates time outdoors does
correspond to more physical activity (Cardon et al., 2008) (Clements, 2004)
(Ludvigsson, et al., 2007).

Task 1. Consent forms obtained

All consent forms were signed and every preschooler at Harley Hopkins Activity
Center participated in the research.

Task 2. Collect data for indoor and outdoor designated groups for the
Preschoolers at Harley Hopkins Activity Center.

There were no malfunctions with the pedometer, equipment, or schedules. The size
of both indoor and outdoor areas were exactly equal.

Task 3. Limit access to multimedia interactions during free time

No T.V or multimedia was used during indoor or outdoor play.

Task 4. Analyze data collected from indoor and outdoor designated groups.

Data showed that preschoolers in the outdoor group had signficantly more steps
than preschoolers in the indoor group. There was no signficant differences between
males and females. Neither indoor nor outdoor group had a large standard
deviation. The T-Test between indoor and outdoor groups showed that there was
less than a .05% chance that the results occurred by chance alone.


According to the fictionalized results, my research indicates that preschoolers who
were sent outside had overall significantly more physical activity compared to the
indoor group. The T-Test results showed that there is a very low chance that the
data occurred by chance alone, and most likely the results were due to the
experimental conditions. These findings correspond to previous research which also
indicates that time outdoors corresponds to greater activity level (Cardon et al.,
2008) (Cleland et al., 2008) (Boldemann et al., 2006).


I recommend that Harley Hopkins Activity Center place more emphasis on free play
outdoors. Children should be given at least 30 minutes a day of free play outside.
Time outside will increase physical play for children as well as stimulate creativity
and immagination (Clements, 2004).

According research, increased physical activity and decreased caloric intake is the
main solution for preventing overweight children (Mayo Clinic, 2012). Increasing
outdoor free play at Harley Hopkins Activity Center will help increase preschoolers
health and well being.

Boldemann, C., Blennow, M., Dal, H., Mrtensson, F., Raustorp, A., Yuen, K., & Wester,
U. (2006). Impact of preschool environment upon childrens physical activity
and sun exposure. Preventive Medicine, 42(4), 3018.
Cardon, G., Van Cauwenberghe, E., Labarque, V., Haerens, L., & De Bourdeaudhuij, I.
(2008). The contribution of preschool playground factors in explaining
childrens physical activity during recess. The International Journal of
Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 5, 11.
Cleland, V., Crawford, D., A, B. L., Hume, C., Timperio, A. F., & Salmon, J. (2008). A
Prospective Examination of Childrens Time Spent Outdoors, Objectively
Measured Physical Activity and Overweight. International Journal of Obesity, 32,
16851693. doi:10.1038/ijo.2008.171
Clements, R. (2004). An Investigation of the Status of Outdoor Play. Contemporary
Issues in Early Childhood, 5(1), 68 . doi:10.2304/ciec.2004.5.1.10
Flom, B., Johnson, C., Hubbard, J., & Reidt, D. (2011). The Natural School Counselor:
Using Nature to Promote Mental Health in Schools. Journal of Creativity in
Mental Health, 6, 118131. doi:10.1080/15401383.2011.579869

Ludvigsson, J., Huus, K., Eklv, K., Klintstrm, R., & Lahdenper, A. (2007). Fasting
plasma glucose levels in healthy preschool children: effects of weight and
lifestyle. Acta Paediatrica (Oslo, Norway: 1992), 96(5), 7069.
Mayo Clinic: Childhood Obesity (May 4, 2012). http://www.mayocli Mayo Clinic:
Childhood Obesity (May 4, 2012).
Murray, R., & Ramstetter, C. (2013). The crucial role of recess in school. Pediatrics,
131(1), 1838. doi:10.1542/peds.2012-2993
Rathus, S. A. (2014).Middle Childhood: Physical Development. In Childhood and
Adolescence: Voyages in Development [Kindle 6 version] (5th ed., p.352).
Rose, K. a., Morgan, I. G., Ip, J., Kifley, A., Huynh, S., Smith, W., & Mitchell, P. (2008).
Outdoor Activity Reduces the Prevalence of Myopia in Children.
Ophthalmology, 115(8), 12791285. doi:10.1016/j.ophtha.2007.12.019