App helps parents improve their preschoolers’ motor skills in minutes a day

Researchers are looking at ways to prevent childhood obesity. There’s an app that could be a major hop forward in teaching kids basic motor skills.
Published: Jun. 29, 2022 at 10:24 AM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Researchers are looking at ways to prevent childhood obesity. There’s an app that could be a major hop forward in teaching kids basic motor skills.

Tiffany Prather and her daughter, Ainsley, 7, enjoy staying active together.

“I am a big believer in prevention of obesity and keeping our kids active,” said Prather.

That’s why she enrolled her daughter in a 12-week program through the Pennington Biomedical Research Center. The app “Play” boosts preschoolers’ motor skills like running, throwing a ball, and jumping.

“Obesity is really a top public health crisis for us here in Baton Rouge and around the state,” said Dr. Amanda Staiano, associate professor at LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center. “One in three children already are overweight or have obesity.”

Staiano said 77% of preschoolers are far below average when it comes to basic motor skills.

“We saw that in a study of 72 families that play was effective in helping children move from below average on motor skills up to average on motor skills and that those kids even kept those skill improvements out for six months,” explained Staiano.

Ainsley is still active, even years after doing the study. The three-month program takes about 12 minutes a day.

Educators encourage parents to do activities that reinforce children’s motor skill development early and break the cycle of obesity later on.

“You have nothing to lose to be in this program because it’s super easy. It’s on your app. It’s available every day. The children – gets them involved,” added Prather.

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Researchers plan to make the app available to everyone in the next few months.

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