Encouraging children to be physically active isn’t as simple as it used to be
. Before, kids were very enthusiastic on moving around- from vigorous sports to those lesser hassling games and running. Now, new research showed that this can truly greatly affect child’s health- and no, they were not talking about obesity.
Researchers with UBC and the Centre for Hip Health and Mobility, at the Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute utilized 309 teenagers to measure their physical activity and bone strength for over a four-year period. With the help of high resolution 3D X-ray images, researchers were able to compare bone differences between children who met the daily recommendation of 60 minutes of moderate physical activity a day and those who got less than half-an-hour
“We found that teens who are less active had weaker bones, and bone strength is critical for preventing fractures,” said Leigh Gabel, lead author and PhD candidate in orthopedics at UBC. “Kids who are sitting around are not loading their bones in ways that promote bone strength.”
Bone strength is a combination of bone size, density and microarchitecture, the researchers wrote in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research. And this four-year window – between the ages of 10 to 14 for girls and 12 to 16 for boys –is crucial for lifelong, healthy skeletal development for as much as 36 per cent is formed during this time of their life. And while boys had larger and stronger bones throughout the study, both responded in the same way to physical activity.
“We need school-and community-based approaches that make it easier for children and families to be more active,” added co-author Heather McKay, a professor in orthopedics and family practice at UBC and the Centre for Hip Health and Mobility.
Thing is, even just dancing at home, playing at the park, chasing a dog or hopping and skipping are also considered helpful on the bone’s development! “The bottom line is that children and youth need to step away from their screens and move to build the foundation for lifelong bone health,” said McKay.