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Sporadic play activity as beneficial to child health as continuous bouts of exercise, study suggests
Date:5/11/2009

New research suggests for the first time that frequent bouts of sporadic activity could be just as beneficial to children's health as longer exercise sessions. A team from the University of Exeter measured the frequency, intensity and duration of bouts of physical activity in a group of children and analysed the results against a number of health indicators.

The results highlighted that the associations between children's activity and health were similar regardless of how the child accumulated the activity. In other words, a child who accumulated short bursts of moderate or vigorous exercise throughout the day was just as healthy as a child who did a similar amount of activity over longer sessions.

The researchers, from the University of Exeter's School of Sport and Health Sciences, believe their findings have positive implications, as children are more likely to engage in short bursts of activity than complete longer bouts of exercise.

Published in the International Journal of Pediatric Obesity, the study focused on 47 boys, aged between eight and ten, the majority of who were all in good health and within a healthy weight range. Using electronic devices called 'accelerometers' worn by the boys, the researchers recorded the frequency, intensity and duration of their activity over seven days. They then conducted a series of tests to measure health indicators, including waist circumference, aerobic fitness and microvascular function (an early indicator of cardiovascular risk).

During a typical day, less than 15% of the boys achieved five bouts of moderate intensity activity lasting five minutes and very few managed to achieve one bout of vigorous intensity activity lasting five minutes. The findings suggest that schools, parents and policy-makers should focus their efforts on encouraging young children to move around as they do naturally.

Lead researcher Michelle Stone, a PhD student at the University of Exet
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Contact: Sarah Hoyle
s.hoyle@exeter.ac.uk
44-139-226-2062
University of Exeter
Source:Eurekalert

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