On the move

Kids need an hour a day of physical activity

School-age children should participate in an hour or more of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily, according to an expert panel of the Divisions of Nutrition and Physical Activity and Adolescent and School Health of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Medical school faculty members Dr. Aviva Must, associate professor of public health and family medicine, and Dr. Thomas W. Rowland, professor of pediatrics, served on the 13-member panel, which published its findings in the June issue of the Journal of Pediatrics.

The technology revolution of the 1980s produced more sedentary options for children while their caloric intake has essentially remained the same. “Our children are just not burning up those calories today,” said Dr. Robert M. Malina, panel co-chair and a research professor at Tarleton State University in Texas. “This means that parents, coaches, teachers and others need to become active role models and get children involved with regular participation in physical activity,” he said.

Much of the needed activity can be achieved at school with appropriate physical education, recess, intramural sports and before- and after-school programs. “In this regard, the Centers for Disease Control recommends daily quality physical education from kindergarten through grade 12,” the panelists wrote.

The expert panel reviewed more than 850 articles and 1,200 abstracts, looking at the impact of physical activity on a wide range of health factors, from body fat to lipid levels to how children perceive themselves.