In the US, child obesity is at an all-time high. With the sedentary play patterns that have worked their way into our lives with tablets, video games and smart phones, it is not surprising. According to a study by the American Heart Association in 2011, approximately one-third of American children between the ages of 2-19 were overweight or obese.  Active play has taken a back seat, not only in our personal lives, but also in schools where recess times have been either decreased or limited, despite the continued research that shows how vital physical activity is to development and health.

The American Academy of Pediatrics noted in a 2006 paper that physical activity is an important strategy in promoting healthy lifestyles.  In addition to practicing gross motor skills, children receive vast health benefits from physical activity including aerobic endurance, muscle growth, strength, coordination, growth stimulation of major organs and increased bone mineral content.  Furthermore, active play can also benefit cognitive and academic development.  Numerous studies have been done on the effects of physical activity impacting the ability to self regulate as well as academic outcomes.  With increased activity, followed by the need to “settle down,” children learn to self-regulate.  Taking breaks for activity also impacts learning.  In a study of third graders, the results showed students were more attentive in class after recess than they were before.

Studies also show that children naturally gravitate to physical play given the chance. Looking for creative ways to encourage active play? Local, independent ASTRA retailers have a unique selection of toys and games that help get kids (and adults!) up and moving. Check out the latest line of ASTRA Exclusive products, available only at ASTRA member stores. This line include 10 new products, four from Djeco and six from Hape.

From Djeco is a fantastically fun game called Color Connect that will not only get everyone moving, but also guarantee the giggles. For all the aspiring young golfers, Marble Golf and Golf Putting will not only get them playing, but will probably entice the adult golfers in the family to give it a go as well. With Knock ‘Em Down, players stack up the thick paper cones and see who can knock down the most.  Who needs to go to a street fair when you can have your own challenge right at home?

Keep an eye out for the Hape items that will be available in June. This line includes Sticky Pitch, Paddle Ball, Croquet, Go Game Set, Tree Ring Toss and Knock Down, all of which are made of wood and encourage getting up and moving around.  Best of all, each one of these exclusive items can be played indoors or out, rain or shine!

Find the ASTRA Exclusives at your local neighborhood toy store: ASTRA Store Locator.



Sue Warfield is the Director of Member Relations at ASTRA. With more than 30 years of experience in the retail and toy business, Sue offers insight into industry trends and tips and works to connect the retailers, sales representatives, manufacturers and affiliates in the specialty toy retailing arena. Contact Sue at