Parents of small children, guard against your child’s sedentary habits.
A new study has found that a low level physical activity combined with high level of sedentary time is particularly harmful for the development of academic skills in boys, while increasing physical activity and reducing sedentary time may improve academic achievement.
According to the study, conducted at the University of Eastern Finland in collaboration with the University of Jyväskylä and the University of Cambridge, small children (aged between 6 and 8 years) exhibit poor reading skills if their lifestyle involves prolonged sitting.
The study, published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, investigated the longitudinal associations of physical activity and sedentary time with reading and arithmetic skills in 153 children aged 6-8 years.
Physical activity and sedentary time were measured objectively using a combined heart rate and movement sensor in Grade 1, and reading and arithmetic skills were assessed by standardised tests in Grades 1-3.
“We found that boys who had a combination of low levels of physical activity and high levels of sedentary time had the poorest reading skills through Grades 1-3,” says Eero Haapala, PhD, from the University of Eastern Finland and the University of Jyväskylä.
The study showed that high levels of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity and low levels of sedentary time were related to better reading skills in Grades 1-3 in boys, particularly in Grade 1. High levels of physical activity and low levels of sedentary time were also associated with better arithmetic skills in Grade 1 only in boys while in girls no strong and consistent associations of physical activity and sedentary time with reading or arithmetic skills was observed.