Most children in day care don’t get enough exercise, according to a study published earlier this month in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Researchers headed by Kristen Copeland of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center found that children in day care spend only 2 to 3 percent of their time in vigorous physical activities.

“This is particularly concerning, because daily physical activity is not only essential for healthy weight maintenance, but also for practicing and learning fundamental gross motor skills and socioemotional and cognitive skills,” the researchers said.

The time children too young to go to school spend in day care may be the only opportunity for physical activity and outdoor play, the study indicated.

“Because many of the children were in care for such long hours, there was little free time for outside activities,” the researchers said. “This was particularly the case for parents who worked multiple jobs and/or did not earn sufficient income to afford outside extracurricular activities.”

In its previous issue, Pediatrics published a clinical report on the importance of play in healthy child development.

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