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Young children only getting 20 minutes of exercise a day

Published on 21/06/2012

Primary school children, particularly girls, need to urgently increase their activity levels to prevent health problems like obesity later in life.

Researchers at the Universities of Strathclyde and Newcastle gave 508 primary school children advanced pedometers to measure their physical activity levels over a week.

Writing in the journal PLoS One, they found that on average only 4 per cent of waking time was spent doing moderate to heavy vigorous activity, totalling just 20 minutes a day.

The study also suggested that girls are less active than boys, with many girls aged 8 to 10 only getting 17 minutes of exercise a day. Dr Mark Pearce, from Newcastle University said:

"One of the important things is that most girls don't see sport as cool."

"We need to be tackling these issues earlier by encouraging girls to exercise, by providing a wider range of opportunities than are currently on offer, and by ensuring they see positive female role models, particularly in the media."

Dr Pearce also suggested that schools and education authorities have the responsibility of inspiring children to be active, perhaps by offering a wider range of sports in school.

An unexpected result of the study was that parents who restricted television access also had less active children. Researchers said sports on television could inspire children to get active, or it could have been a fluke.

Department of Health guidelines say children aged between five and 18 should do at least one hour of moderate to vigorous activity each day, such as sports, brisk walking, dancing or cycling.

© ActiveQuote Ltd. 2012

Categories:  Health
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