Portable Play Equipment is a Cost-Effective and Safe Way to Increase Physical Activity in Children

A new report released by the South Carolina Institute of Medicine and Public Health (IMPH), in partnership with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), outlines the benefits of portable play equipment in engaging children in active play in the child care setting.  The Role and Value of Portable Play Equipment in the Child Care Center demonstrates that portable play equipment is associated with increased levels of physical activity, reduced costs and reduced incidents of injury.  The report details research presented October 11, 2013 at the Institute for Child Success SC Early Childhood Research Symposium.

“It is our hope that this information is helpful to teachers and administrators in the early care and education environment who want to encourage more physical activity for their children,” states report co-author and IMPH Associate Director Maya Pack.  “Realizing that expensive playground equipment is not necessary to get kids active is a starting point in thinking creatively about how to integrate physical activity into the day of preschoolers.”

The existence of portable play equipment in place of fixed play equipment is a significant predictor of participation in physical activity and motor skill development.  After portable play equipment is added to a center’s play areas, research shows decreased sedentary activity levels and increased light, moderate and vigorous activity levels.  Larger play spaces and teacher-arranged activities can also enhance the impact of portable play equipment and further increase levels of physical activity.

Portable play equipment is associated with significantly lower acquisition and maintenance costs.  Fixed play equipment can result in additional costs for child care facilities in order to comply with state child care playground equipment regulations, which generally focus on fixed play equipment and the surrounding environment.  In 2012, there were 7,067 reported deficiencies among child care facilities in South Carolina.  The most common type of deficiencies found are those related to playgrounds.

Risk of injury has been reported as a barrier to children’s physical activity in child care.  Playground injuries are more often associated with fixed equipment than portable play equipment, making portable equipment a cost-effective way to address safety concerns.

The report concludes with two recommendations for early care and education decision-makers: 1) educate child care providers on the value of portable play equipment in increasing children’s physical activity levels, and 2) promote portable play equipment as a means of addressing center deficiencies, cost and safety concerns.

For the full report information, please visit the following link: The Role and Value of Portable Play Equipment in the Child Care Center


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