Program Gets Kids to Be More Active

Intervention got them playing soccer, swimming instead of watching TV

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WEDNESDAY, Nov. 10 (HealthDayNews) Exercise-intervention programs can help boost physical activity in children, says a study by researchers at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing.

The study found that a short, moderately intensive exercise intervention encouraged third graders in three Nashville public schools to get involved in activities such as soccer and swimming instead of sitting around watching TV.

Black children, especially girls, had the greatest increase in activity following the intervention, which focused on moderate to vigorous, aerobic exercises and non-competitive games designed to engage children. The intervention included 24 20-minute sessions over eight weeks.

"This modest, eight-week school intervention changed and heightened the intensity levels of the existing physical exercise program in the schools and benefited children by encouraging more vigorous physical activities and less sedentary activities at home," study author Tom H. Cook, an assistant professor at Vanderbilt, said in a prepared statement.

Before the intervention, about 24 percent of the children reported sedentary behaviors such as reading, playing video games and watching TV. That dropped to 16 percent after the intervention. The study also found that more than 13 percent of the students who reported moderate physical activity before the intervention became more involved in more vigorous activities after the intervention.

The findings were reported Wednesday at the American Heart Association's scientific sessions in New Orleans.

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more about children and exercise.

SOURCE: American Heart Association, news release, Nov. 10, 2004

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