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Monday 24th October 2016

Sports activities 'not enough' for kids

14th December 2010

Just enrolling them in organised sports activities is not enough to keep children healthy, according to a recent US study.


The researchers found that, of all the children they studied who were enrolled in a sport, almost none exercised enough to meet US national guidelines.

Only 2% of girls playing softball actually got 60 minutes of exercise during practice.

On average, the remaining 98% got 45 minutes of exercise.

Study author James Sallis at San Diego State University said that parents signed children up for sports as an enjoyable and regular way to get physical activity, which unfortunately was not sufficient.

He said that physically active children received a lot of benefits, such as stronger bones and better mental health.

Of all of the children studied, boys and children 10 or younger got the heaviest exercise.

Children who played football also scored the highest, in terms of time spent being physical active.

But only one quarter of all the study participants got enough exercise, the authors reckon, with children younger than 10, and boys in general, leading the pack.

On average, teenagers scored the lowest when measured up to US national recommendations.

About 200 children between the ages of seven and fourteen took part in the study, all of whom played football, baseball, or softball.

The researchers measured the physical activity of the children electronically, using portable devices to measure the children's' vital signs.

They looked for signs that the children were breathing heavily or sweating for prolonged periods, roughly the same as when jogging.

Sallis said that, while practices could last up to three hours, providing physical activity was not the main goal of youth sports.

He said that children were often made to stand in line instead of doing things that made them break a sweat, practising technical aspects of their sport that required little strenuous activity.

While children usually get exercise during school, these periods of exercise do not recur with enough regularity for parents to count the time spent toward children's' exercise targets.

Furthermore, because a modern child typically has a fairly busy schedule consisting of homework, supper with family, and time spent on fun, organised sports are one of the only reliable sources of exercise for children.

Sallis said he believed people in charge of children's physical activity should take a more fitness-oriented approach to their sports in order to improve people's technique.

He said he believed that, if coaches were convinced that fit players were better players, there would be more physical activity during practices.

Researcher Russell Pate of the University of South Carolina, who was not involved in the study, said he also believed that children should get as much exercise as possible during sports practice.

He said that, since the amount of exercise children got in the recent study varied unpredictably, parents should be selective not only about which sports they signed their children up for, but which teams as well.



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