“Exercise-intervention programs can help boost physical activity in children,” says a study by researchers at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing.
The study found that a short, moderately intensive exercise intervention encouraged third graders in three Nashville public schools to get involved in activities like soccer and swimming instead of sitting around watching TV.
African-American children, especially girls, had the greatest increase in activity following the intervention. It focused on moderate to vigorous aerobic exercises and non-competitive games designed to engage children. The intervention included 24 20-minute sessions over 8 weeks.
"This modest 8-week school intervention changed and heightened the intensity levels of the existing physical exercise program in the schools. It benefited children by encouraging more vigorous physical activities and less sedentary activities at home," stated study author Tom H. Cook, an assistant professor at Vanderbilt.
Before the intervention, about 24% of the children reported sedentary behaviors like reading, playing video games, and watching TV. That dropped to 16% after the intervention. The study also found that more than 13% of the students who reported moderate physical activity before the intervention became involved in more vigorous activities after the intervention.
The findings were reported at the American Heart Association's scientific sessions in New Orleans.
SOURCE: American Heart Association, news release, Nov. 10, 2004
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