London - Children who spend hours watching TV or playing on a computer are more clumsy than other youngsters, a study claims.

It found those who sat around for most of the day were up to nine times less likely to have normal levels of co-ordination.

Even simple tasks such as hopping and jumping were affected.

Importantly, brief bursts of strenuous exercise did not make up for the damage apparently done by a sedentary lifestyle.

The study tracked the movements of more than 200 children aged nine and ten using a pedometer-like gadget to measure activity levels over five days.

The children were tested to measure their balance, speed and co-ordination, including walking backwards on a beam.

On average, the youngsters spent three-quarters of their time sedentary – defined as sitting or lying down – with the girls less active than the boys.

However, the impact on co-ordination was greatest for the boys, with male couch potatoes five to nine times less likely to have normal co-ordination, the Journal of Human Biology reports.

The findings stood even when height, weight and other exercise were taken into account.

Researcher Dr Luis Lopes, of Minho University in Portugal, said good co-ordination was linked to a healthy weight and heart, adding: “Childhood is a critical time for the development of motor co-ordination skills which are essential for health and well-being.” - Daily Mail