Friday, January 16, 2009

Study: Kids at 3 more active than kids at 4

Most of the youth sports posts found here can be filed under this heading: Too much. Too much pressure, too much parental angst, too much money for a kids baseball bat, too much focus on the (illusory) path to a college scholarship. Just plain too much.

Which brings me to today's topic: Not enough.

A study published this month shows a "significant reduction" in physical activity occurs in children between the ages of 3 and 4-5.

The study also found that kids in this age group spent about 90 minutes per day in front of screens, including television, computers and video games. They spent another 90 minutes in similarly sedentary pursuits, namely reading, drawing and listening to music.

A total of 244 kids were in the study which was conducted in New Zealand. Children were observed before turning three and then again as they approached their fourth and fifth birthdays. There's more to the methodology - how do you reliably track the activity of kids that age, anyway? - but the interesting stuff is the conclusion: Even at this tender age, boys and girls are choosing couch-potato status over jumping, stamping, clapping hands and other age-appropriate stuff.

“One opportunity we get by way of these results is to narrow in on an age range where we can really encourage healthy habits for very young children,” said Rachael Taylor, Ph.D., lead author of the study said in a press release posted by the American College of Sports Medicine, which published the study.

“That is going to mean turning some of that screen time into activity time, where kids are running, jumping and playing. Or, more specifically, considering that target age range of 4 and 5, it is probably the right time to encourage more outside play where possible, or enroll a child in gymnastics, tennis or another structured activity in order to increase their exposure to physical activity.”

I'm generally suspect of organized sports for pre-schoolers. (Let's call it what it is: baby-sitting). On the other hand, I volunteer to turn off the TV.

1 comment:

amakice said...

once kids start getting pushed into "pre-k" activities, they spend their time doing less hands-on activities (that might inspire spontaneous chasing, running, jumping or swinging) and more worksheets in order to "prepare" for academics. When they spend their days in high-stress academics, they are pretty exhausted by the time they get home, even if it isn't from physical activity.

When my son was in kindergarten he had 15 minutes for recess and a lot of times they were late for recess so they had more time to do worksheets.