Get Kids Up and Moving During Screen Time
With school back in full swing, kids are sitting for much of the day. Arriving home in mid to late afternoon, many of them park themselves in front of the computer screen, TV, or chill on their bed with other tech devices, accumulating more sedentary hours! A new study suggests that if we interrupt their sitting time with brief minutes of movement, that effort can translate into lower blood sugar levels.
According to a new NIH (National Institutes of Health) study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism three minute breaks during screen sitting time can improve kids’ blood sugar levels. Most kids are victims of sedentary lifestyle thanks to the advent of handheld technology, computers, video-gaming and televisions. There’s also been a significant downturn in the number of minutes spent in mandatory physical education at schools. Many kids also live in unsafe neighborhoods which curtails outdoor playtime. And many households have both parents working, which means less family playtime during the week and on the weekend. Your kids are sitting a lot and according to this study that means they have higher, persistent blood sugar levels.
A sedentary lifestyle is associated with an increased risk of pediatric obesity, diabetes, elevated levels of cholesterol and other health conditions. Once a child has an elevated BMI (body mass index), they are more likely to be overweight or suffer with obesity in adulthood. Most experts recommend healthier diets and a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise daily to improve kids overall health and metabolism and to help reduce the risk of obesity. Short walking breaks can help kids to meet that minimum daily total of exercise minutes.
The study monitored blood sugar levels in a group of kids ages seven to eleven years old, that sat continuously for three hours on one day, and then took walking breaks every half hour during a three hour period of sitting another day. Blood sugar levels and insulin levels were taken before and after the sitting experiences on both experiment days. Researchers found that blood sugar and insulin levels were lower in the test subjects, on the day when walking breaks occurred. The movement allowed muscle cells to help clear blood sugar from the bloodstream, which also helped to keep insulin levels more stabilized.
The researchers also noted that the short bursts of walking did not increase the children’s appetites. Kids ate similar types and amounts of food on both days of the experiment. In the past experts have recommended that TV viewing be broken up by movement during commercials – and not to the refrigerator to get food!!
Both parents and kids can benefit by following these “movement” recommendations. Make it a habit to get up and move around, do house chores, do some organizing, and climb the stairs in the house, whenever you’re sitting for long periods of time. It’s an easy way to accumulate “steps per day” and will likely have a positive impact on blood sugar levels.