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

er, said: "Our study suggests that physical activity is associated with health, irrespective of whether it is accumulated in short bursts or long bouts. Previous research has shown that children are more naturally inclined to engage in short bursts of running, jumping and playing with a ball, and do not tend to sustain bouts of exercise lasting five or more minutes. This is especially true for activities that are more vigorous in nature.

"If future research backs up our findings, we would do better to encourage young children to do what they do naturally, rather than trying to enforce long exercise sessions on them. This could be a useful way of improving enjoyment and sustainability of healthy physical activity levels in childhood. Since the frequency of activity bouts accumulated per day was more strongly associated with waist circumference and microvascular health than the intensity or the duration of activity bouts, simply encouraging children to break up sedentary time with bursts of activity may be a good starting point."

The research team now recommends further research to measure the impact of sporadic exercise on health over time. Such research will help to determine whether differences in the aspects of the activity pattern in young children are a cause or a consequence of better health. Measurement of children's activity patterns and aspects of health over a number of years (i.e., tracking studies) will help determine whether relationships between the pattern of activity and health outcomes persist as children age. They also suggest a comparison between girls and boys to see whether aspects of the activity pattern which relate to health differ between genders. This further research could then be used to influence policy change to ensure that children are given the opportunity to be active in the most effective way for health benefits.

Professor Roger Eston, co-author and Head of the University of Exeter's School of Sport and He
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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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