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London - Children need seven minutes a day of “vigorous” physical activity to stay healthy, but most are not even getting that, according to new research.
Youngsters spend a staggering 70 percent of their time in sedentary activities and just 0.6 percent of their time in vigorous activity.
Lead investigator Professor Richard Lewanczuk said: “Our research showed children don’t need a lot of intense physical activity to get the health benefits of exercise – seven minutes or more was all that was required.
“But the seven minutes had to be intense to prevent weight gain, obesity and its adverse health consequences. And most kids weren’t getting that.”
The researchers from the University of Alberta, Canada, studied more than 600 children, between the ages of nine and 17.
The youngsters wore monitors that tracked their physical activity levels for a week. They also had their weight, waist circumference and blood pressure regularly monitored.
The team, whose findings are published in the journal Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, reviewed the data and found that the more vigorous the physical activity, the less likely the children were to be overweight.
The team did not find the expected health benefits from mild or moderate activity, even if the time spent doing the type of activity increased – making intense physical activity crucial.
For kids who took part in vigorous physical activity that lasted longer than seven minutes, their health benefits were significantly better.
“This research tells us that a brisk walk isn’t good enough,” says Lewanczuk. “Kids have to get out and do a high-intensity activity, in addition to maintaining a background of mild to moderate activity. “
Getting young children to make vigorous physical activity part of their daily routines is important, especially considering that activity levels in the teenage years drop right off, Lewanczuk said. – Daily Mail