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Outdoor exercise more beneficial than indoor

Posted on in Cycles News, Outdoor News

Children who spent more time involved in exercise outdoors, rather than indoors, decreased their risk for obesity and other weight-related health issues.

Happy cyclistsAs 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 ."

The study was funded by the the National Prevention Research Initiative and World Cancer Research Fund.

Dr Rachel Thompson, Head of Research Interpretation at World Cancer Research Fund, added: "There is evidence that physical activity protects against cancer, particularly bowel cancer, one of the most common forms of the disease in the UK. Getting into healthy habits during childhood is a big advantage when it comes to reducing the risk of getting cancer in later life as active children are more likely to become active adults.

"Being active is also beneficial in other areas of physical and mental well-being. This research demonstrates how children are most active when they're playing outside with friends, so we should be looking at ways we can encourage this in a safe environment."

The study also helps to mark the start of Cancer Prevention Week, during which World Cancer Research Fund has launched the Move More Challenge to encourage families to take part in physical activities and games in an informal setting.

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