Most Children Do Not Perform 7 Minutes of Rigorous Exercise a Day, Study Says

children exercise
Image REUTERS/Rick Wilking

When commercials say that it is easy to lose weight on a certain plan with little to no exercise, researchers roll their eyes. Such quick slim plans have gained fervor though as countries' waistlines increase. Just as adults have gotten more overweight, so too have children, who find a more limited selection of tools to help them lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. Researchers at the University of Alberta were surprised to find that children do, in fact, need only seven minutes of exercise a day, on average, to stay fit. Sadly, many children are missing the mark.

Richard Lewanczuk and his colleagues examined the health of 600 children between the ages of nine and 17 in the area of Leduc, Canada. The children were asked to wear monitors that would record their level of physical activity over the course of seven days. The researchers also regularly recorded each child's weight, waist circumference, and blood pressure. They found that 70 percent of children's time was spent sitting. Nearly 23 percent of their time was spent performing light physical activity, seven percent moderate physical activity, and just 0.6 percent of kids' time was spent devoted to vigorous physical activity. Boys were slightly less sedentary than girls were. Weekends were especially bad for physical activity; children received most of their exercise at school. Teenagers exercised less often, in particular.

"Our research showed children don't need a lot of intense physical activity to get the health benefits of exercise - seven minutes or more of vigorous physical activity was all that was required," Lewanczuk said in a statement. "But the seven minutes had to be intense to prevent weight gain, obesity and its adverse health consequences. And most kids weren't getting that."

In addition, recent studies have proclaimed that one can be overweight and fit at the same time. However, these researchers have found that is not generally the case in children.

But the study also found some bright spots. The more the children performed vigorous physical activity, the less likely they were to be overweight. They also became more fit and had smaller waist lines. The longer the children performed rigorous activity, the better the health benefits were.

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