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How to build 1 hr of exercise into daily rhythm Article: Children’s exercise declines over time: Study

  How to build 1 hr of exercise into daily rhythm.  The hidden cost of busing is that kids do not walk enough, or ride their bikes enough day to day. It's hard to go to gym every day. 

Children's exercise declines over time: Study

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Children's exercise declines over time: Study

Girls in particular need to be encouraged to maintain physical activity, say researchers
By Peter Russell
WebMD Health News


13th September 2010 - A new analysis appears to confirm what has long been feared about our children: they tend to exercise less as they get older.

University researchers examined levels of exercise in a selection of nine to 10 year olds in the UK and found they fell by 4.6% in the course of a year. The authors say that the drop was particularly significant among girls and that children are least likely to be active at weekends.

The team from the Medical Research Council Epidemiology Unit in Cambridge and the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia looked at levels of physical activity in 844 boys and girls drawn from 92 schools. Those taking part were involved in the SPEEDY study which examines sport, physical activity and eating behaviour in young people.

Measuring children's activity

The youngsters wore accelerometers, which measured their daily activity by registering motion.  Participants wore the devices for three days at the start of the project, which took place in the summer term of 2007, and again 12 months later.

All the children were weighed and measured and had their BMI calculated. They were also graded for socioeconomic factors, such as whether they came from poor or wealthy backgrounds and whether they lived in rural or urban areas.

The researchers found that, overall, the children's physical activity fell during the year. At the start of the study, 70.4% of pupils met recommended levels of physical activity, dropping to 65.8% when they were tested 12 months later.

Girls less active than boys

The dip in physical activity was more pronounced among girls, those with higher levels of body fat and those from wealthier backgrounds. In addition, the children tended to be less active at weekends, after school and during half-term and holidays, the researchers found.

The authors of the study, which appears in the latest edition of The American Academy of Pediatrics, call for a health promotion campaign to redress the falls in physical activity. "The extent of these decreases over one year would have significant implications for these children if decreases continued into adulthood," they write.

Amy Thompson, senior cardiac nurse for the British Heart Foundation, says in an emailed statement: "This study reinforces what is already well known - too few children take too little exercise.

"The benefit of physical activity for all age groups is well established. With levels of obesity in children rising, it is vital that we support children to incorporate regular physical activity into their day to day lives."

Thompson adds: "Children should aim to do at least one hour of moderate intensity activity a day, such as swimming, cycling or running."


'Changes in Children's Physical Activity Over 12 Months: Longitudinal Results From the SPEEDY Study', Kirsten Corder, PhD at al, doi:10.1542/peds.2010-0048.

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I am a pediatrician specializing in General Pediatrics, International Adoption Medicine, and in the diagnosis and coaching of families pursuing joy.