A Closer Look at Children's Physical Activity Patterns

Children are far from meeting national guidelines for physical activity, and girls are at greatest risk of falling short of recommendations according to a study measuring the physical activity of 453 schoolchildren in Massachusetts during a one-week period.

Led by researchers at Tufts University School of Medicine and the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, the study examined children’s activity patterns during school-time and out-of-school, compared to national recommendations.

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend that school-age children get at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) every day and the Health and Medicine Division of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) recommends that 30 minutes of this activity occur during the school day. The researchers studied physical activity among children in grades three through five, not only during the school day, but also after school and on weekends to determine when children were more or less active. Measurements of the children’s physical activity were taken from accelerometers worn for seven consecutive days during all waking hours. Notably, the study included a representative sample of children across several school districts in Massachusetts with 30 percent of the study participants being overweight or obese.

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