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16 minutes of exercise separates fit, unfit kids

By Nanci Hellmich, USA TODAY

Normal-weight children get 16 more minutes of physical activity a day than their obese peers, a new study shows. And overall, girls do 20 minutes less physical activity a day than boys.

“This is a huge wake-up call to society,” says Donna Spruijt-Metz, the senior author of the study and an associate professor of medicine at the University of Southern California.

A third of American children are overweight or obese. The government’s physical activity guidelines recommend that kids and teens get an hour or more of moderate-intensity to vigorous aerobic physical activity a day.

Researchers at the University of Southern California and the National Institutes of Health analyzed government activity data on 3,106 children. The kids wore accelerometers to measure their physical activity levels for four days. The study, published in this month’s Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, the journal of the American College of Sports Medicine, shows:

  • Normal-weight children ages 6 to 17 are moderately to vigorously active for 59 minutes a day, compared with 43 minutes for obese children that age.
  • Overall, boys ages 6 to 17 are active an average of about 64 minutes a day, compared with 44 minutes for girls in that same age range.
  • Girls need to get more exercise to establish an active lifestyle, which will help with weight control and reduce their risk of diseases such as cancer as adults, says the study’s lead author Britni Belcher.

Source: http://www.usatoday.com/yourlife/fitness/exercise/2010-12-07-kidsactivity07_ST_N.htm