Taking frequent breaks from sitting helps kids stay healthy
While previous studies have shown that sitting too long can increase diabetes risk in adults, new research suggests that frequent breaks from being sedentary can also help kids stay healthy.
A study published in PLOS One found that, not surprisingly, Canadian kids spend more than half of their waking hours being sedentary: playing video games, sitting in class, watching television or just being inactive.
"We already know that sitting too much is bad for kids," said Travis Saunders, researcher at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) Research Institute. "But now, for the first time, we have evidence that simply getting up more frequently is associated with better health in this age group."
Examining health risk factors
The researchers analyzed data from an existing study of 500 children living in Quebec. Looking at risk factors for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease based on family history, the team studied how taking breaks from sedentary behavior might change these risk factors.
The kids were measured for risk indicators like waist circumference, body mass index, fasting glucose, fasting insulin, triglycerdies and HDL-cholesterol.
Not only was sedentary behavior associated with higher health risks, but the study also found that video game use increased these risk factors for boys. For girls, television viewing was associated with higher health risks.
"Increased screen time poses a persistent health risk for kids as a rule," Saunders said.
More important than how long the children stayed active when they got up, the researchers concluded, was how frequently the kids got moving.
Source: Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute