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Exercise

Study: Children spending too much time on the sofa

"The data clearly demonstrates children’s physical activity had deteriorated."

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Two boys watching movie on couch, real life children reaction to TV screen
(True Touch Lifestyle via Shutterstock)

By Gwyn Wright via SWNS

Children are exercising less than they did before the pandemic and spending too much time on the sofa, warns a new study.

Researchers have found that less than four in 10 UK youngsters (36 percent) were doing enough exercise by the end of last year - despite their parents still keeping fit as much as they used to before the deadly bug struck.

Children aged 10 to 11 were doing 56 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity on weekdays as lockdown rules were eased between last April and December- four minutes less than the recommended hour.

That is also eight minutes less, or a drop of 13 percent, compared with what they were doing before Coronavirus struck.

Young ones are also spending 25 more minutes lounging around on the sofa or in bed during the week than they used to.

Children were even less active at the weekend when they did just 46 minutes of moderate to intense physical activity, eight minutes less than before the pandemic.

For the study, 393 children and their parents from 23 schools in the Bristol area wore an accelerometer to measure the intensity of their exercise and completed a questionnaire.

These findings were compared with facts and figures about 1,296 children and their parents who were recruited from 50 schools in the same area before the pandemic.

Getting enough exercise is vital if children are to grow up healthy and happy.

The UK Chief Medical Officers including Professor Chris Whitty say children and young people should do an hour of exercise each day which leaves them slightly hot, sweaty and out of breath.

They also say children should not spend too much time sitting around on the sofa.

Study senior author Professor Russ Jago said: “It was surprising the extent children’s physical activity levels had fallen after the pandemic, indicating that changes in physical activity patterns did not revert to previous levels once freedoms had been restored.

“These findings highlight a greater need to work with children, families, schools, and communities to maximize the opportunities for children to be physically active, as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

First author Dr. Ruth Salway added: “The key strength of this study was we used data collected before and after the pandemic, using the same methods and in the same schools.

“The data clearly demonstrates children’s physical activity had deteriorated once the restrictions were lifted.

“This emphasizes the importance of understanding how such habits change over time, so appropriate support and interventions can be introduced as normality resumes.”

The findings were published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity.

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