More than half of the children in the United States do not receive the recommended amount of 420 minutes of physical activity per week. This is evident from new findings recently unveiled at the 2018 National Academy and Pediatrics National Conference and Exhibition in Orlando, Florida.
Among those who meet the weekly training requirements, most are active for fewer days and for longer periods of time and risk burnout or recurrence damage. In fact, only about 5 percent of children meet daily exercise recommendations (60 minutes a day).
Previous research has consistently shown a link between higher physical activity and better mental health in adults and children. In particular, exercise has been shown to reduce depression and improve memory.
For the new study, the researchers studied the self-reported physical activity levels of 7,822 children over a three-year period. The children were seen in ambulatory pediatric sports medicine clinics.
Their results show that only 5.2 percent of children stated that they achieve daily physical activity goals. In addition, 49.6 percent were not sufficiently active and 5 percent said they had no physical activity.
The categories were based on the number of minutes per week in which children participated in physical activities, based on the recommended 60 minutes per day or 420 minutes of activity per week.
"Exercise should be used as a vital health indicator," said Julie Young, M.A., A.T. C., a research associate in the Department of Pediatric Sports Medicine, Nationwide Children's Hospital.
"There are many benefits of physical activity. Answering these questions can open the door for doctors to hold important conversations with families about how children can receive these services. "
Based on the findings, boys were physically 61 minutes more physically active per week than girls. For boys, the likelihood of meeting the current 420-minute physical activity guidelines was 39 percent higher than girls.
The researchers also found that physical activity tends to increase with age, with younger children reporting less exercise. Early childhood physical activity is essential for the development of motor skills and physical competence that can affect behavior throughout life.
"The opportunities for physical activity are shrinking – less free play and less physical education in schools," said Amy Valasek, MD, MS, a doctor for Nationwide Children's Sports Medicine Hospital and assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics, Ohio State University College of Medicine
"By asking simple questions about daily activity, clinicians can provide a recipe for healthy physical activity."
Source: American Academy of Paediatrics