-- Robert Preidt
MONDAY, Dec. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Playing team sports does not
guarantee that a child will get the U.S. government-recommended 60
minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise per day, a new study
Using accelerometers, a type of sensor that measures physical
activity, researchers studied activity levels of 200 children aged
7 to 14 while they took part in practices with their soccer,
baseball or softball teams.
Overall, only 24 percent of the children met the 60-minute
physical activity recommendation during practice. Less than 10
percent of participants aged 11 to 14 and less than 2 percent of
female softball players reached the guideline, said Desiree Leek,
of San Diego State University/University of California, San Diego,
Among the other findings:
About 44 million American children and teens play team sports.
These findings show the need for changes that enable team sports to
make a larger contribution to the nation's goals of boosting
children's physical activity and preventing childhood obesity, the
"The health effects of youth sports could be improved by adopting policies and practices that ensure youth obtain sufficient physical activity during practices: emphasizing participation over competition, sponsoring teams for all skill levels across all ages, ensuring access by lower-income youth with sliding scales for fees, increasing practice frequency, extending short seasons, using pedometers or accelerometers to monitor physical activity periodically during practices, providing coaches strategies to increase physical activity and supporting youth and parents in obtaining adequate physical activity on non-practice days," Leek's team wrote.
The findings were released online Dec. 6 in advance of
publication in the April 2011 print issue of the
Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.
In an accompanying editorial, two experts called for more
research on the amount and intensity of physical activity
youngsters get during sports and other structured recreational
"This would include not only organized team sports but also dance lessons [e.g., ballet, jazz, contemporary, tap] and outdoor activity programs [e.g., rock climbing, cycling, canoeing, kayaking]," wrote Russell R. Pate and Jennifer R. O'Neill, of the University of South Carolina, Columbia.
"Further and perhaps most importantly, we need to learn ways in which the doses of physical activity provided during youth sports and activity programs can be most effectively increased by modifying the manner in which the practices and contests are conducted."
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more
children and physical activity.
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