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Outdoor Exercise is more Beneficial than Indoor for Children: Study

First Posted: May 13, 2014 06:18 PM EDT

As statistics show that childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years, many after school programs have pushed for greater physical activity, particularly outdoors.

A recent study conducted by researchers from the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom hones in on the advantages of outdoor activities. Findings showed that children who spent more time involved in exercise outdoors decreased their risk for obesity and other weight-related health issues.

For the study, researchers examined the relationship between 427 children between the ages of 10 and 11 during outdoor and physical activity levels as part of the Personal and Environmental Associations with Children's Health (PEACH) project. They used accelerometers to determine the intensity of activity experienced as well as GPS devices to monitor when the children were outside. The children were also asked to keep a diary to record who they spent time with throughout the day.

Findings showed that children who spent more time outdoors were more likely to be physically active when compared to those who spent more time indoors. In fact, researchers calculated that for every hour spent outside playing with friends, the children ended up performing an additional 17 minutes of physical activity. Yet for every hour children spent playing indoor with friends, their physical activity levels only increased by an extra six minutes.

"We found that children spend most of their after-school time indoors and little time outdoors playing with other children, which makes the biggest contribution to the amount of physical activity they get," said Dr. Angela Page, from Bristol University's Centre for Exercise, Nutrition and Health Sciences, via Medical Xpress. "Building stronger neighborhood community links between parents and children could restore the social norm of children playing outdoors and relieve some concerns parents may have about safety."

More information regarding the findings can be seen via the article, "Who children spend time with after school: associations with objectively recorded indoor and outdoor physical activity," published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity.

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