Children need exercise for healthy bones

Children need exercise for healthy bones

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Physical activity promotes bone development
In order to develop healthy and feel good, children need regular exercise. That's not new. But now scientists from the Leibniz Institute for Prevention Research and Epidemiology (BIPS) have found out how much physical activity is necessary for the bones of boys and girls to become strong. The researchers published their results in the "International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity".

Sport not only promotes coordination and skill
Regular physical activity is particularly important for children, because it strengthens the muscles, stimulates the balance system, trains perception and promotes movement coordination and dexterity. Researchers at the Leibniz Institute for Prevention Research and Epidemiology (BIPS) have now been able to show that exercise has a positive effect on bone development even in childhood - while sedentary behavior has a negative impact.

Researchers measure movement activity of around 4,500 children
According to a message from BIPS, the researchers led by Prof. Wolfgang Ahrens had examined around 4,500 children between the ages of two and ten for their study in order to find out to what extent exercise, sedentary behavior and muscle strength combined affect children's bone health and development. For this purpose, they equipped the young test subjects with a measuring device that recorded the movement activity. In this way, they were able to understand exactly how much time the children were sitting or whether they were physically moving easily, moderately or intensively.

At the same time, the parents were asked to provide information on the sports practiced in a questionnaire and to inform them about how much time the child sits in his free time or is on the move. To determine muscle strength, jump distance and hand strength were also measured. The scientists finally determined the bone strength using an ultrasound measurement on the heel bone.

Already ten minutes of intensive exercise have a positive effect
It was shown that just ten minutes of additional moderate to intensive physical activity a day improved bone strength in preschool and elementary school children by up to two percent, the message said. Sitting, however, had a negative effect on bone strength. Above all, weight-bearing sports such as foot or basketball, but also jumping rope or racing games had a positive effect. According to the researchers, this can be attributed to the mechanical loads during these activities, which act directly on the bones and thereby promote their build-up. In contrast, the researchers found a lower bone strength in the children who had only moved little.

Get children excited about sports as early as possible
“The basis for good bone health is laid in childhood and exercise is fundamental. A moderate to intensive as well as weight-bearing physical activity accelerates the bone building processes, strengthens the bone strength and thus lowers the risk of broken bones ”, summarizes Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Ahrens, deputy director at BIPS and co-author of the study. Therefore, according to the first author Dr. Diana Herrmann important, "to get children excited about exercise as early as possible - because in adulthood new bone mass can no longer be built up, only the age-related bone loss can be delayed."
According to the information provided, the investigation was carried out as part of the IDEFICS study (Identification and prevention of Dietary -and lifestyle- induced health Effects in Children and infants). This is the largest European study on the study of obesity in children, involving a total of 23 research institutes and companies from eleven European countries as well as more than 18,000 children aged two to eleven and their parents internationally. The study ran from 2006 to 2012 and was coordinated jointly by the BIPS and the University of Bremen, further investigations would now follow in the EU-funded "I.Family Study". (No)

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