The effectiveness of encouraging exercise in children

The BMJ of 6th October has two interesting articles on trying to encourage the young to take exercise.
Exercise is a key contributor to weight and the more exercise the better.
However one’s experience is that children vary so much in how much they exercise. There was a time when the young would walk to school and there were physical education classes and games. This is no longer the case.
Even in games there is variation. On a professional football pitch, there are those who run several mile s and others like the goal keeper and the strikers who may cover a much shorter distance.
Improvement in exercise is hard to assess but there must be a difference between a statistically positive improvement and an improvement which is sustained and which improves weight and health and is regarded as fun. In the main article cited below there is a failure to identify the amount of exercise actually needed. The increases ranged from the trivial 3 minutes to 50% increase.
Also a child who hates organised sport may love swimming and dancing.
The conclusions in these articles are full of hope but enable to identify how to evaluate success.
This is a really good area for work, including the inner cities.
Giles-Corti and Salmon -Leader BMJ 2007 Encouraging children and adolescents to be more active BMJ vol 335 pp 677-8#
Sluiijs et al 2007 Effectiveness of interventions to promote physical activity in children and adolescents: systematic review of controlled trials. BMJ vol 335, 703-7

Martin Eastwood
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