An exercise in exercise

 
By Alyssa LaRenzie • Published: July 17th, 2009
Category: Health in a Heartbeat
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Let’s do an equation. P-E plus children equals thinner kids, right?

Seems like sound logic. But new research reveals that kids actually get about the same amount of exercise every day… no matter how many hours of physical education they have at school.

Out of three elementary schools studied, one offered more than nine hours of gym per week… the others, about two hours. Kids who spent more time in phys [fizz] ed were less active at home, opting to play video games or watch T-V. Those with fewer hours of P-E compensated by riding bikes or playing with friends outdoors. On average, the children got about the same amount of exercise.

The study followed about two-hundred children over four semesters of school. Each participant wore a device that measures energy expenditure and intensity.

Weekly totals for students in each school were about the same, leading researchers to believe that the brain may actually have a control mechanism that monitors how much physical activity a child has gotten… similar to its control center that rules appetite.

Expanding P-E time, therefore, doesn’t necessarily up the amount of daily exercise children get. Instead, the brain may sense the time they spend in the gym during the day, lessening or increasing the urge to play outside when they head home. So while no one’s knocking exercise, when it comes to one’s weight, other factors may just as likely weigh in… like how many healthy items are on that school lunch menu.