Just Like Parents, Kids Need to Get Up and Move

By Dan Peterson, TeamSnap's Sports Science Expert


Reading recent health news, we have all heard that sitting is the new killer, contributing to our sedentary lifestyle, obesity and heart disease.  “Just get up and move at least once an hour” is the new prescription for better circulation, metabolism and even digestion. Well, it turns out this is a habit that needs to start much younger as kids can see some of the same problems as their parents if they “become one with the couch” for too long.

With 17% of U.S. kids and teens obese, costs to take care of related conditions jumped to $14.1 billion according to the Endocrine Society. With the extra weight, kids are more prone to diabetes and early heart issues. Jack A. Yanovski, MD, PhD, of the National Institutes of Health and Britni Belcher, PhD, of the National Cancer Institute, designed an experiment to gauge the effect of hours of sitting around and if even a short burst of physical activity would help their bodies process all of the refined sugar that kids like to eat.

"Sustained sedentary behavior after a meal diminishes the muscles' ability to help clear sugar from the bloodstream," said Dr. Belcher. "That forces the body to produce more insulin, which may increase the risk for beta cell dysfunction that can lead to the onset of Type 2 diabetes. Our findings suggest even short activity breaks can help overcome these negative effects, at least in the short term."

They and their research team gathered 28 kids, aged 7 to 11, who were at a normal weight for their height, to do something they love to do: lie around. First, they had their blood and insulin levels recorded, then drank a sugar-filled soda. Next, half the group literally got to vegetate on a couch for 3 hours while the other half had to at least get on a treadmill for just three minutes per hour of sitting.

At the end of three hours, their blood and insulin were retested to see what effect, if any, the limited exercise had on the experimental group. On a different day, the groups were reversed and the experiment was repeated.

Sure enough, those kids had lower blood sugar and insulin levels than the control group, processing that sugary soda much more efficiently.

The results were recently published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

"Interrupting a long period of sitting with a few minutes of moderate activity can have short-term benefits on a child's metabolism," said Dr. Yanovski. "While we know getting 30 minutes or more of moderate intensity exercise each day improves children's health and metabolism, small behavioral changes like taking short walking breaks can also yield some benefits."

So, if the whole family is binging on some TV, be sure to take those hourly breaks to get up, run the dogs around outside, play some hoops or anything that gets the bodies moving for a few minutes.

bio pic

Dan Peterson is a recovering sports dad who is fascinated with sports science research, skill development and the athlete’s brain. He has written over 400 science-based articles across the Web and consults with parents, coaches and young players to help them understand the cognitive side of sports. You can visit him at Sports Are 80 Percent Mental and at @DanielPeterson.

Release Date: Mar 18 2016

Create Your Team Today!

It’s Free and Free is Good!