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Friday, 21 July 2006 11:18
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
Children need more exercise
A study by the Norwegian School of Sports Science in Oslo claim that children need to exercise for at least 90 minutes a day to avoid heart disease when they are older.

The current UK guidelines recommend an hour of exercise - but recent studies found only one in 10 children of school age achieve that limit.

The researchers looked at over 1,730 children, aged nine or 15 years, from schools in Denmark, Estonia, and Portugal.

For each child they measured a combination of risk factors for cardiovascular disease, including blood pressure, weight and cholesterol, to calculate a combined risk factor score.

Over one weekend and two week days the children were asked to wear a monitor that measured how physically active they were.

The researchers found that their risk score for cardiovascular disease decreased with increasing physical activity.

The lowest risk scores were found in the nine year olds who did 116 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity activity and the 15 year olds who did around 88 minutes daily.

This would correspond to walking at a speed of around 4 km/h for 90 minutes.

Professor Lars Bo Anderson and his team stress that the 90 minutes of daily exercise they are recommending for children would not have to be done in one chunk; it would be spaced over the day.

Neville Rigby of the International Obesity Task Force said children were being stifled from doing exercise.

"When you drive your child to the school gate in your Chelsea tractor you are not helping your child.

"Most kids in a previous generation had to walk to school, cycle to school or catch a bus”.

Professor Chris Riddoch, head of the London Sports Institute at Middlesex University and one of the researchers who conducted the latest study, agreed, saying: "We have engineered a society that does not exercise - kids as well as adults”.

He said children needed to be allowed and encouraged to be active at every opportunity.

"Every little bit helps. If we are not successful then the next generation of adults will be less healthy than we are and we are no role model”.

He said much was being done to improve the situation but that unless things changed the NHS would crumble under the strain of treating escalating ill health.

A spokeswoman from the Department of Health said policy makers would consider the implications of the new findings "very carefully in the context of our efforts to halt the rise in obesity among children under 11 by 2010."

"It is important that we keep our recommendations under review as evidence like this comes to light," she added.

She said there were a number of schemes working to increase physical activity among young people, including issuing schoolchildren with pedometers - devices that measure how many steps someone takes.

The Government also wants all school pupils to receive two hours of PE and sport a day by 2010.

Steve Shaffelburg of the British Heart Foundation said: "For children to develop a lifelong healthy attitude to physical activity, it will take a concerted effort from many groups working together to find long-lasting solutions”.


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