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Less Screen Time Helps Children Stay Healthy



Less screen time helps children stay healthy

Although the ever-improving technology we have in this country is excellent, it also has many downsides, such as making it easier for people – particularly children – to be lazy.

Whereas in years passed children would regularly go outside to play games and run around with their friends for fun, now they stay inside watching TV and playing video games while eating processed snacks – none of which is healthy.

And now a new study is proving what most of us already thought to be exact – that children could be healthier if they spent less time in front of electronic screens and more time engaging in physical activity.

The study, completed by researchers at the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina and published in the journal of the American College of Sports Medicine, set out to determine the relationship between child cardiorespiratory health and time spent in front of an electronic screen.

Read: Eye Health and Care in the Digital Age

Results are based on more than 2,000 children who were followed between the ages of 11 and 13. Participants were asked to regularly report their screen time and measure their cardiorespiratory fitness level by completing shuttle runs.

Not too surprisingly, children who spent more time in front of an electronic screen completed fewer shuttle run laps. Children who had mid to high cardiorespiratory fitness levels were able to complete the most shuttle run laps.

What does all of that mean? It means that kids who spent more time watching TV or playing on the computer had a harder time running laps, while kids who spent less time doing those things were more physically fit.

That means children who decrease the amount of time they spend in front of electronic screens should easily be able to increase their cardiorespiratory fitness levels. It’s important to note that the study didn’t take any other physical activity into account.

This study shouldn’t be taken lightly, either. The CDC has reported that childhood obesity has grown threefold over the last 30 years, showing that one-third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese as of 2008.

Children between the ages of 6 and 11 saw obesity levels rise from 7 percent to 20 percent between 1980 and 2009, while children between the ages of 12 and 19 reported that obesity levels increased from 5 percent to 18 percent during that time frame.

And if you need more reason to help your children stay away from the TV and get in shape – children and adolescents who are obese are more likely to have high cholesterol and high blood pressure (both risk factors for cardiovascular disease), prediabetes, bone, and joint problems, sleep disorders, and social or psychological issues.

Also, people who are overweight or obese as children are more likely to be overweight or obese as adults, placing them at a higher risk for heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and cancer, among many other health issues.

So what can you do to help your child? Check out some of the best treadmills for home and make working out part of your family’s daily routine. You can even allow your child to watch TV for 30 minutes longer – as long as they do so while running on the treadmill. Or you can let them play video games as a reward for doing their daily workout – whatever gets your child motivated.

Eventually, you’ll be able to find the right balance between a proper amount of screentime and the right amount of working out – all of which will help your child get in better shape.