Kids Need to Get Moving, Too!
Yesterday, I wrote about how important it is for women and mothers to get up off their—couches—and get moving. Being sedentary can take a heavy toll not only on the health of women, but also on the future health of their unborn children.
In the recent past the new field of epigenetics has illuminated how changes in a person’s environment—including what they eat, how active they are, and what kinds of drugs and toxins they are exposed to—can essentially throw switches on genes, altering how those genes are expressed in the body. AND in the bodies of future generations. Even though the underlying genetic code is effectively “set in stone,” emerging research shows that the environment plays a far more important role in how that code is expressed in the body—and passed along—than we previously realized.
Today I’d like to explore a related problem: Mothers are less active than they were a generation ago. But even children are spending too much time sitting these days, and not enough time doing what comes naturally. Moving. Running. Playing. Being active.
Just like their mothers, kids who sit too much are at greater risk of developing serious health conditions, such as obesity, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. And plenty of research has documented what common sense tells us: kids are spending longer and longer periods of time sitting in front of screens, and less time playing actively.
But here’s some good news. A new study has concluded that being so inactive is far less damaging to kids if you can just get them to take movement breaks every now and then. In a press release issued by Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute, a spokesman said: “...For the first time, we have evidence that simply getting up more frequently is associated with better health in this age group.”
The children in the study ranged from 8 to 11 years old, but other age groups are likely to benefit similarly from regular activity breaks. Are your children spending to much time sitting? In school and at home in front of one screen or another? Less inactive time is better, but if they have to be inactive, at least consider making them take regular activity breaks.
Travis John Saunders, Mark Stephen Tremblay, Marie-Ève Mathieu, Mélanie Henderson, Jennifer O’Loughlin, Angelo Tremblay, Jean-Philippe Chaput. Associations of Sedentary Behavior, Sedentary Bouts and Breaks in Sedentary Time with Cardiometabolic Risk in Children with a Family History of Obesity. PLoS ONE, 2013; 8 (11): e79143 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0079143