FRIDAY, June 22 (HealthDay News) -- Teens who engaged in more moderate-to-vigorous outdoor activity reported better health and social functioning than their peers who spent hours in front of television and computer screens, a new study in Australia has found.
The teens who had the highest perceived health in the study spent an average of 2.5 hours more per day playing sports or doing other high-intensity activity than their least-active counterparts, according to the researchers.
The research, done at the University of Sydney, found that youths in the study overall spent an average of 3.3 hours a day playing video games, watching television or doing other sedentary activities, compared with only 2.1 hours in physical activity.
The findings suggest that parents need to limit how much time their children spend using electronic media, the lead author said.
"Parents should be conscious of the fact that outdoor physical activity is beneficial to their child's overall health and well-being, and should try to limit the time their child spends in front of the screen," said Bamini Gopinath, a senior research fellow at the university's Westmead Millennium Institute for Medical Research.
Although no causal link was established, the study provides "another piece of evidence" that increasing physical activity and decreasing screen time "would be beneficial" to teens, said Gopinath, adding that "the impact of activity behaviors persists over the long term."
The study, published in the July issue of Pediatrics, was conducted from 2004 to 2009.
Study questionnaires asked how much time 1,216 teens spent on outdoor exercise compared to indoor activities including computer use for recreation and homework. Other sedentary activities such as reading were included. The data were collected at age 12, and again five years later. At that time, another group of 475 tee
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