Is there anything more dispiriting than seeing a child playing with a fluffy, light toy? It makes us feel sad for tomorrow — a future where adults seek effortless fun and never learned hard work is its own reward.
It’s also a future where everyone is fat (the high-fructose foods and sedentary entertainment kids enjoy now may have something to do with that, but hey, the fluffy toys aren’t helping, either.)
At least now, researchers have shown that giving kids heavier toys helps keep them active, which may end up fighting childhood obesity:
Ozmun and his colleagues investigated whether children’s physical activity can be increased by subtly changing the task requirements of certain activities already common to them – i.e. by adding weights to toys used either during play or while learning.
Their study included five boys and five girls, who were an average of 7.5 years old, who were randomly assigned to carry either large, cardboard toy blocks that weighed less than a quarter of a pound (0.10 kilograms) or blocks that weighed about 3.4 pounds (1.55 kilograms).
The weighted toys had small steel blocks glued inside the larger blocks. The children picked up the blocks, one at a time, and carried them with two hands over approximately 26 feet (8 meters). Days later, the children were assigned to the opposite type of toy block and repeated the activity.
Overall, after an average of 10 minutes of carrying weighted blocks, the children experienced significantly greater increases in heart rate, oxygen uptake and energy expenditure than they did after carrying the lighter blocks, study findings indicate.
Oh, to recall our industrious childhoods! Look for the heavier toys to begin flying off the shelves (or falling, with a thud).
More from Indiana State University’s coverage of Professor Ozmun’s research…