Thursday, May 25, 2017

Organized sports provide about 20 minutes of real exercise per hour of activity; CDC says children should exercise an hour a day

By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News

We live in a world where children are more likely to participate in organized sports and activities than to spend time running and playing outside. Most parents seem to think this is a pretty good substitute for exercise, but a new study says otherwise.

The study, published in the Journal of Sports Sciences and Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, found that "between sitting while listening to instructions, standing in line while waiting their turn and other parts of practices, only about 30 percent of practice time is actually spent in moderate to vigorous exercise," says the Kansas State University news release.

"In an hour-long practice, the children are still getting about a third of the physical activity they need for the day, but it's still a little bit less activity than people would expect," said Katie Heinrich, director of the KSU kinesiology department's Functional Intensity Training Lab,

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says children and teens should have an hour or more of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day, including bone and muscle strengthening activities at least three days a week.

Most of Kentucky's middle school and high school children don't get the recommended amount of physical activity.

According to the 2015 Kentucky Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 63 percent of Kentucky's high-school students said they had not been physically active for at least an hour a day in five or more of the seven days prior to the survey, and 80 percent of them reported they hadn't had an hour of physical activity per day on all seven days.

The results were only a little better for middle-school students, with 52 percent saying they had not been active in five of the seven days prior to the study and 71 percent not active in all seven days.

Heinrich added that the findings of this study doesn't mean organized activities aren't important, noting that in addition to providing some exercise, they also provide "structure, companionship and character-building opportunities." But in addition to this, she said parents need to make sure children have at least 40 minutes a day of active unstructured playtime.

"Organized sports are valuable, but free play activities are needed as well," Heinrich said. "It's important to provide children with opportunities for both."

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