The epidemic of childhood obesity in many countries across the globe, particularly the US, is hardly breaking news. However, with the link between one of the biggest killers, type 2 diabetes, and obesity, there is at least one serious health condition that needs to be tackled alongside the issue of kids getting fitter and not fatter. New research suggests that longer activities can have a profound impact on children's fitness.
Every school and every parent knows, or should know, that kids need to get away from computer, TV and phone screens and get active. It isn't necessarily about kids adopting some strict type of exercise routine but simply moving their bodies so that they have some type of aerobic influence. However, while adults may be relieved to see kids doing the odd bit of exercise, what's important to note is that 40 minutes of fun activities compared to 20 minutes can make all the difference.
Research at the Institute of Public and Preventive Health at Georgia Health Sciences University split 222 overweight and inactive 7-11 year olds into three groups for the three months study. A third carried on as usual, with a sedentary lifestyle, another group were active for 20 minutes each day and the third group exercised for 40 minutes each day, after school.
Insulin resistance which leads to diabetes was reduced in both of the active groups. The 40 minute exercisers saw the biggest reduction though at 22%, compared to 18 percent for the 20 minute group. Total body fat, abdominal fat and aerobic fitness were also measured. These too were found to improve with the longer exercise group.
The after-school activities did not include organized sports which often involves lots of waiting around but engaging, fairly vigorous exercise. Rewards were also given to youngsters to keep most of them motivated enough to carry on for the study length at least.
What is clear is that a quick run around outside might not be enough when it comes to keeping kids in shape and lowering the risk of life threatening diseases such as diabetes. While body fat may be burned with intense exercise, the length of time kids are working their muscles is an important factor too which cannot be ignored.
Even youngsters who are involved with sports and activities at school might not be doing enough actual exercise. All though attitudes and approaches have changed over the years, many parents still have memories of their school days where certain sports meant a lot of standing around doing nothing. Overly structured exercise can be a turnoff for kids too.
However, with exercise classes dedicated to young people, as well as activities designed with youngsters in mind, there is greater scope for teens and pre-teens to get moving and not sit around once school is out for the day. Need ideas on how to get your child on the move? Contact us and we'll help.