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Need to get children active

21st June 2012

Scientists fear children could suffer problems later in life unless activity levels are increased for them at primary school age.

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A research project undertaken by Strathclyde University and Newcastle University found that some eight to 10-year-olds were active for only 20 minutes a day, with girls less active than boys.

For the study, published in the journal PLoS One, they gave 508 primary school children advanced pedometers to measure their physical activity levels over a week and found that just 4% of waking (20 minutes) time was spent doing moderate to heavy vigorous activity compared to the recommended hour of activity every day.

The researchers said they were surprised by the low levels of activity.

Dr Mark Pearce, from Newcastle University, said: “Activity drops in teenage years and if it’s this low at eight, there's not much further to fall.

“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.”

Researchers found older fathers seemed to have less active children and that a TV ban also makes children less active. They want to see parents play a greater role in getting their children interested in sport.

Professor John Reilly, from the University of Strathclyde, said there was an urgent need for interventions “at home and at school” to help primary school children become more physically active.

 

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