Toddlers as young as two, with unhealthy profiles, could have greater risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) when they're older. So says a large-scale European study which recommends activity guidelines for the under-9s. This latest research adds to the already worrying trend that obesity in children is on the rise and that many youngsters are simply not doing enough. Whether it's a lack of facilities, motivation or a greater pull toward screen time, there's a general feeling that some kids have lost that running around childhood that their parents took for granted.
European children's lifestyle study
Recommendations for activities for children is an hour a day of moderate to vigorous exercise, with some more intense exercise included in this a few times a week. But does this apply to all children, both boys and girls, at all ages? According to a European study investigating diet, social determinants and lifestyle factors for 2-10 year olds, the IDEFICS, it doesn't, and new guidelines for this age group have been recommended.
15% at risk youngsters
The IDEFICS study involved 3,120 youngsters aged 2-9, with 1,016 aged between 2-6 years and 2,104 between 6-9 years. Blood pressure, cholesterol levels and skinfold thickness were measured to identify children with cardiovascular disease risk profiles. Out of all the children studied, for all ages 2-9, the number showing risk was 15%, and this included the toddler age group and correlated with how active they were.
60-85 minutes recommendation
The study recommended that girls in both the under-6s and the 6-9 category should exercise for the same time as the present guidelines; an hour a day. With the boys, the study recommended over 70 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise a day for the under-6s and over 80 minutes for boys aged 6-9. The conclusion was to urge medical professionals to be recommending between 60-85 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per day which includes 20 minutes of vigorous exercise.
How active is your child?
When you're rushing around busy with life it can be difficult to take an objective view of what you are doing and how you and the rest of your family are actually living your lives. If you have children then take a step back and assess how active they are. Does this live up to the daily recommendations? Are they doing less vigorous exercise and more moderately intense activities? Do they have days when they do nothing at all? You don't need to be on the sidelines with a stopwatch but it's good to get an overall picture of how active kids are and the patterns of activity as well.
If you want to initiate more activity in your young ones then find interesting ways to encourage them. Young children love to help so finding tasks to help you, such as chores in the garden, is a great way of making feel grown-up and getting them to run around too. Go to the park and enjoy a frantic game of ball where you all run around as a family. Find centers where there are dedicated activities going on, with specialists who understand how to really get children moving and fit.
Do you need ideas on how you can activate action in your kids? Get in touch!