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Promotion of physical activity in children

Summary


Physical activity is an evidence-based intervention that offers benefits to both physical and mental health

Although the American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended that children be physically active for at least 60 minutes a day and limit sedentary activity to less than 2 hours a day, many children do not meet these recommendations. In this article, Victoria Floriani and Christine Kennedy review the latest research findings with regard to the promotion of physical activity in children. For example, the authors discuss a number of studies which have found that access to a neighborhood park or playground is associated with higher levels of physical activity in children and that specific park amenities, such as lighting after dark, may be important in facilitating park use. Floriani and Kennedy also summarize research on sedentary behavior and how evidence, while often inconclusive, indicates that the less time children spend in sedentary behaviors, the more physically active they may be. In addition, the authors highlight recent research exploring the relationship between mental health and physical activity. While there is still much to be learned about this relationship, preliminary research has found a positive relationship between higher levels of physical activity and positive mental health outcomes, such as increased feelings of self-efficacy and confidence. Floriani and Kennedy conclude the article by encouraging pediatric health care providers to discuss physical activity with their patients and strategize with them on ways to incorporate activity into their daily lives.

Citation

Floriani, V., Kennedy, C., (2008). Promotion of physical activity in children. Current Opinions in Pediatrics, 20, 90-95.

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