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Health Team

Study: Children need to get moving

Posted July 15, 2008 5:51 p.m. EDT
Updated July 15, 2008 9:13 p.m. EDT

— There is new information about your children and the exercise they need, but may not be getting.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, children should have a minimum of 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity every day.

Pediatrician Dr. Philip Nader and a research team followed more than 1,000 children over 6 years of age. The kids wore activity monitors around their waists, devices that tracked their activity levels for about a week.

“I was kind of surprised at the sharpness of the decline and how the amount of activity just kept getting smaller and smaller as the children got older,” Nader said.

At 9 years old, children engaged in three hours of moderate to vigorous activity per day on both weekdays and weekends. By age 15, it was down to 49 minutes on weekdays and 35 minutes on weekend days.

“I think it's probably due to the environment that's not supporting activity," Nader added.

Researchers said they believed increased traffic, neighborhoods with fewer parks and cuts in school recess time contributed to the decline.

“My friends and I like to go to the movies and we also like to go on MySpace (the Web site) together,” teen Danielle Pupa said.

“We like to play video games about four or five hours a day,” Nick Pupa said.

The risk is that with children not getting enough exercise, they run a greater risk of being overweight and carrying a host of health concerns into adulthood.

Researchers said the findings should be a call to action for parents, physicians and health care providers to do their part to get children to become more physically active.

The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.