A recent study suggests that pre-school children may not be getting adequate amounts of physical exercise per day.
While the recommended time is approximately 120 minutes daily, a team of researchers found that pre-school children only spend 48 minutes per day partaking in physical activities.
This “considerably suboptimal” time allocation is worrisome, study authors believe, as it may point towards a tendency towards sedentary lifestyles later on.
Dr. Pooja S. Tandon and her collaborators included 98 participants in the stidy, aged three to five. The children were enrolled in privately funded childcare centres.
After having established the distinct activities in which the children partake (outdoor play, indoor play, teacher led-play or naptime), the children were asked to use accelerometers.
The results showed that nearly 75% of the entire time that preschoolers spent at the childcare centers was sedentary, 13 percent was spent on light activity while the rest was dedicated to moderate or vigorous physical activity.
According to best-practice rules, though, a preschool should aim for a total of 120 minutes of play time daily, 50 percent of which should consist of teacher-led playtime while the other half should involve unstructured activities.
“Children need daily opportunities for physical activity not only for optimal weight status but because physical activity promotes numerous aspects of health,” the authors wrote.
Outdoor activities are correlated with a higher desire of activity on a child’s part, however, weather, limited space and prioritizing academics are often cited as barriers in achieving the 120 minute goal.
And more often than not, children aren’t as active as experts would like them to be.
But even when children are enrolled in activity-related programs, parents cannot just assume that the child is getting enough activity. Accelerometers were also used to track the activity of children and teenagers attending dance classes. Even here, the children were not getting as much activity as their counterparts engaging in sports practice did.
Parents should therefore pay attention to details and understand exactly what children are signing up for. If activity is the goal, sports-based programs are the definite winner.
Image Source: ZME Science