As adults, we have all heard about the dangers of sitting for long periods of time. Adults on average sit for around 6 hours a day. Something to consider is how long children sit in a day which is actually a lot more than adults. An average of 8.5 hours of a child’s day is spent sitting. Think about it, children sit on the bus to and from school, sit for long periods of time while in school and then at home doing homework, watching T.V. or playing on electronic devices. Continue reading and we will discuss the research regarding how our bodies change when standing vs. sitting, how to combat all that sitting, and how much activity children should have in a day.
After the age of eight, kid’s activity levels tend to drop rapidly. Studies in adults have found that when we sit for “2 hours consistently there is an increased risk for diabetes, metabolic syndrome, back and neck pain, and other orthopedic problems.” Another study measured vascular function in girls ages 9-12. One group of girls sat in bean bag chairs for three hours without standing and another group would ride an exercise bike for 10 min at a slow pace for every hour of sitting. No surprise, the cycling group had no change in arterial function while the sitting group had “profound decrease in vascular function.” The dilation of their blood vessels reduced by 33%. If adults experience a “1% drop in vascular function it increases the risk for cardiovascular disease by 13%.” When the arteries stop expanding there is decreased blood flow and an increase in blood pressure.
We know sitting is bad, but what if you sit all day in school or work and then go for a run every night? The American Heart Association states “no amount of physical activity is enough to combat the dangerous health effects of sitting.” The solution is kids and adults alike just need to move more sporadically during the day. There are no specific criteria which are more effective than the other, but some suggest standing one minute for every hour of sitting or walking for 3 min for every two hours of sitting. Downloading an application to the electronic device your child uses can act as a reminder to move. One study in Britain found moderate to severe fidgeting can eliminate the correlation between sitting and mortality. So technically one doesn’t even have to stand up to seek benefits of movement! Maybe we need to rethink telling children to sit still! Schools are also starting to take notice and are moving towards standing or kneeling desks which are thought to help with learning and helps burn calories. As an overall guideline, the American Heart Association reports children should have “at least 60 min of moderate to vigorous intensity aerobic activity.” If you need ideas on how to get your kids moving, visit the links below.