Physical activity declines over preschool years

By Amy Norton

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Childhood obesity is a growing problem, and new research suggests that physical activity levels among youngsters already begin a decline before they start school.

In a study of 244 New Zealand children, researchers found that the children’s daily exercise levels generally declined between the ages of 3 and 5, while their time in front of the TV or in other sedentary activities stayed consistent.

Using both parents’ reports and an objective measure of daily activity — a wearable monitor that records the body’s movements — the researchers found that exercise levels dipped among both boys and girls by the age of 5.

Meanwhile, the children spent an average of 90 minutes per day in front of the TV or computer, with another 90 minutes devoted to other sedentary activities like reading and drawing. Those habits were consistent over time, according to findings published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

Few studies have looked at preschoolers’ activity levels, so it’s difficult to tell whether it’s natural for physical activity to wane between the ages of 3 and 5, according to lead researcher Dr. Rachael Taylor, of the University of Otago in New Zealand.

However, the findings are potentially concerning, she told Reuters Health. In recent years, obesity has been rapidly increasing even among preschoolers.

In general, experts recommend that children and teenagers be physically active for at least an hour each day. Taylor recommended that parents help their preschoolers get enough exercise by being physically active along with them — and by putting limits on TV and computer time.

“Children generally love to be active and busy, especially when young,” she said, “so it makes sense to optimize that interest as much as possible.”

SOURCE: Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, January 2009.


Related Posts:

By Amy Norton NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Australian researchers have found that young teens who spend more than two hours in front of the TV or computer each day showed less endurance during a standard running test than their peers. The findings do not prove that TV and computer time is leading to out- of-shape kids,

Full Post: TV, computer time may mean out-of-shape kids

By Joene Hendry NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - According to their parents, pre-school children have somewhat better diets than school-age children, but both groups fall short when it comes to getting recommended amounts of exercise. Dr. Hollie A. Raynor, of the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, and co-investigators, assessed parents’ reports of their children’s diet and activity

Full Post: Youngsters often miss diet and exercise marks

By Joene Hendry NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Chocoholics looking to curb their chocolate urges may be able to do so simply by taking a brisk 15-minute walk, results of a study from the United Kingdom hints. “Taking active breaks throughout the day may be valuable in helping to limit the consumption of pleasurable, but unnecessary, calories,”

Full Post: A brisk walk may curb chocolate cravings

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Regular aerobic exercise can not only stave off the decline in brain function that often comes with age, it can also help turn back the clock on brain aging, two experts in the field report, based on a critical review of published studies. Age-related deterioration in the all-important white and gray

Full Post: Aerobic activity may reverse mental decline

By Amy Norton NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - A workplace program that encourages employees to set exercise goals appears to boost regular activity substantially, according to a new study. After 12 weeks with the program, offered to workers at eight Home Depot sites, 51 percent of workers were meeting experts’ general recommendations for exercise — at least

Full Post: Workplace program ups employees’ exercise levels

Site Navigation

Most Read