Elaborate jungle gyms and twisty slides sure are fun, but they may not give your child the most well-rounded "workout." A recent study of daycare-center playgrounds found that when kids had access to items like balls, hula hoops, and jump ropes, they were more active than when they had only stationary structures to play on. "Typical playground equipment does help develop certain motor skills, like climbing," says study coauthor Dianne Ward, a professor of nutrition at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. "But kids play harder and longer when they have more portable playthings around."
So next time you're headed for the playground, pack a ball along with the snacks and wipes. Maybe you'll be inspired to get up off that park bench and play yourself!