Children Become Physically Less Active During Primary School Year Says New Study
A recent study conducted by the University of Bristol found that children become less physically active during their primary school years. Read more here.
A recent study done by Bristol University found that children significantly reduce physical activity during their primary school years.
Based on data of more than 2000 children from 57 schools across the U.K, children between the ages of six and 11, became 17 minutes less active per week every year.
This means on average, children reduce more than an hour of physical activity in a week and an even greater amount during the weekends.
In order to obtain the results, children were asked to wear an accelerometer for five days – including 2 weekend days. This provided researchers accurate data to analyse how many minutes per day children participated in moderate to vigorous physical activity or MVPA.
According to the U.K. Chief Medical Officers, children should do an hour of MVPA every day.
Apart from that, the study also found close to a 20% decline in MVPA between students in Primary 1 and Primary 6.
Girls especially showed a steeper decline as they reduced physical activity from 58% to 28% by the time they graduated from primary school.
“We saw marked differences in physical activity levels between boys and girls, with girls engaging in less MVPA and more sedentary time on both weekdays and weekends than boys at age six,” the study stated.
BMI affects physical activity in childhood
The study also took a deeper look into how body mass index or BMI affects physical activity in childhood.
They found that a child who is obese from ages 6 to 11 does 10 minutes lesser MVPA per weekday compared to a child of a healthy BMI.
This is concerning to lead researcher Russ Jugo, Professor of Paediatric Physical Activity & Public Health, as later on, these obese children are more likely to fall ill as opposed to their healthy peers.
“We know that children living with obesity are more likely to become obese adults—putting them at increased risk of developing heart and circulatory diseases and their risk factors, such as type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, later in life”
Therefore, professor Jugo urges parents and schools to maintain their children’s activity levels before they approach adolescence.
How parents can help their children be more physically active
In Singapore, the government has unveiled many initiatives such as the Trim and Fit (TAF) programme and the Health Promotion Board’s (HPB) Active Youth Workout programme to keep students fit and healthy.
Moreover, schools also have the mandatory National Physical Fitness Award (NAPFA) which includes a series of tests like standing broad jump and long-distance running.
At home, parents can also ensure their kids maintain an active lifestyle by trying following things:
- Take up fitness classes with your child (e.g. boxing, swimming or even dance)
- Include physical activity in your weekend plans
- Be a role model by doing some physical activity yourself
- Use fitness-based toys like a jumping rope or a soccer ball
Parents, do use these tips and encourage not only your children but the whole family to stay physically active.