Panel: Get American Kids Moving

One hour a day of physical activity is reasonable, healthy, experts say

MONDAY, June 13, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Children need to get up and away from the TV and computer and out exercising at least an hour a day, concludes a 13-member expert panel whose recommendations appear in the June issue of the Journal of Pediatrics.

"We have to get American children and adolescents active. The evidence is very clear that physical activity has decreased dramatically in the last 10 to 20 years," said panel co-chair Dr. Robert M. Malina, research professor and an expert in growth and development at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas.

He believes that the technological revolution of the 1980s produced new ways for kids to stay sedentary instead of being more active as in decades past.

The panel, convened under the direction of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reviewed more than 850 articles and 1,200 abstracts containing data on the impact of physical activity on a wide range of health factors in children.

"Increasing the level of habitual moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity in youth is a health promotion and a disease prevention strategy," the panel concluded.

A minimum of an hour a day of physical activity is reasonable and can be achieved by most children with some effort, the panel said.

Malina pointed out that today's children are more sedentary but are still consuming about the same amount of calories as more active children of a decade or two ago.

"Our children are just not burning up those calories today," Malina said. "All of us need to help children increase the amount of time spent in moderate to vigorous physical activity. This means that parents, coaches, teachers and others who influence youngsters need to become active role models and get children involved with regular participation in physical activity."

"The take-home message for parents is that it is very important to ensure that their children spend at least an hour a day in some form of appropriate physical activity," panel co-chair Dr. William B. Strong, a pediatric cardiologist and retired professor at the Medical College of Georgia, said in a prepared statement.

Restoring physical education classes and other school- and community-based recreation programs could play a major role in encouraging children to get the required amount of physical activity, the panel said.

More information

The American Heart Association has more about physical activity and children.

SOURCE: Medical College of Georgia, news release, June 13, 2005
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