Monday, June 22, 2009

Early Physical Activity and Body Fat Mass

More and more research continues to be published supporting the idea that children need to be active. The benefits of physical activity are numerous. The American Journal of Preventive Medicine recently published research on early physical activity in young children and its effects on body fat mass. Boys and girls (333 children) physical activity levels were measured at age 5 and body fat mass was measured at age 5, 8 and 11. Moderate to vigorous physical activity at 5 years old was a predictor of body fat mass at 8 and 11 years of age in boys and girls.

Therapists need to continue to encourage all children to participate in physical activity. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all children should participate in 60 minutes or more of physical activity. You do not need fancy or expensive equipment to encourage physical activity. Here are several suggestions to encourage unstructured physical activity in children:

1. Get outdoors whenever possible. Being outdoors usually creates movement automatically for children.
2. Stuck inside on a rainy day? Play freeze dance, musical chairs or create an indoor obstacle course.
3. Go bike riding.
4. Give children simple equipment to play with such a balls and jump ropes.
5. Walk to school, library or errands.
6. Plan a family outing such a hiking, swimming or boating. Active parents are excellent role models.
7. Visit a park with playground equipment.
8. Blow bubbles and chase them.
9. Run through the sprinkler, wade in a stream, jump in a kiddie pool or swim in a lake.
10. Plant a garden - digging, squatting and carrying watering cans is a work out.

Not only will children benefit from the physical activity you will be creating memories to last a lifetime.

Need more activities? Check out all of our titles that encourage sensory motor skill development.

References: Kathleen F. Janz EdDa, b, , , Soyang Kwon MSb, Elena M. Letuchy MSb, Julie M. Eichenberger Gilmore PhDc, Trudy L. Burns MPH, PhDb, d, James C. Torner PhDb, Marcia C. Willing PhD, MDd and Steven M. Levy MPH, DDSb, Sustained Effect of Early Physical Activity on Body Fat Mass in Older Children American Journal of Preventive Medicine Volume 37, Issue 1, July 2009, Pages 35-40

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