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Health A daily walk or jog at school proven to make children fitter and healthier

05:11  15 may  2018
05:11  15 may  2018 Source:   9coach.com.au

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Daily Mile, a program that has schoolchildren walk or run 15 minutes a day, has been proven to increase the Near the start of the school year, all the children wore accelerometers to gauge how much physical activity they did, and had their body fat measured via a skinfold test.

"We want them to be motivated to make changes, rather than feel like 'I’m different to everybody else' [because] that can be demotivating and damaging to self-esteem. RELATED: A daily walk or jog at school proven to make children fitter and healthier .

Children walking to school.© Getty Children walking to school. The Daily Mile was launched in 2012 by Scottish teacher Elaine Wyllie, who was alarmed to see her pupils struggling to complete even basic fitness tasks.

It made a huge impact at her school, and the initiative has since spread around Scotland, the UK and the rest of the world: At the more than 3,000 participating schools, students head outside every day to walk, jog or run for 15 minutes.

Teachers have long reported the benefits of the program — and now those benefits have been proven in a study published in the journal BMC Medicine.

Researchers from the University of Stirling and the University of Edinburgh tested almost 400 primary school students from two schools: one that had just implemented the Daily Mile, and another that hadn't.

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Scheme makes children more likely to be a healthy weight and physically fit . The Daily Mile initiative was set up by a former headteacher in 2012. It involves pupils walking , jogging or running a mile every day for 15 minutes.

Near the start of the school year, all the children wore accelerometers to gauge how much physical activity they did, and had their body fat measured via a skinfold test. They also participated in the dreaded "beep test" to score their fitness.

About six months later, the students underwent the same tests — and the ones from the school participating in the Daily Mile recorded significant improvements, according to study co-author Dr Naomi Brooks.

Those children increased their moderate-to-vigorous levels of physical activity by nine minutes a day, decreased their sedentary time by almost 20 minutes, added almost 40m on average to their beep test result, and improved their body composition.

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3. Walking the dog. Not all activity has to be strenuous to be healthy . One simple way of getting kids active is to sneak more movement into your day. READ NEXT: A daily walk or jog at school proven to make children fitter and healthier .

Those who engaged in daily moderate exercise, such as a brisk walk or jog , high-intensity interval training (HIIT), and Related Articles. How to Turn Your Daily Walk into a High Intensity Exercise. Will 10,000 Steps a Day Make You Fit ? Walking More May Be Key for a Longer, Healthier Life.

"With my pupils, I saw that 15 minutes of daily activity rapidly improved pupils' fitness, health and concentration in the classroom," said Wyllie at an event announcing the study results. "I am delighted that this new research underlines what I found and I look forward to the day when every school does the Daily Mile."

The study is significant because, around the world, children's fitness is falling as their body fat rises.

Children are advised to do 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity a day. According to one report card, less than one in five Australian children meet that target — a similar grade to other countries. Globally, children now have worse cardiovascular fitness than their parents did at the same age.

Meanwhile, a study released in late 2017 found one in four Australian children is now overweight or obese. The World Health Organisation has identified childhood obesity as "one of the most serious public health challenges of the 21st century", as overweight and unfit children are more likely to grow up to be overweight and unfit adults.

The Daily Mile is hailed as a solution to the problem because it's free, straightforward to implement, and requires no special training or equipment.

Writing for The Conversation, the researchers poured cold water on suggestions that the Daily Mile takes away time that could be spent on lessons, arguing physical activity is shown to boost kids' alertness and concentration.

Anecdotally, the initiative has also been reported to improve children's diet, sleep and overall wellbeing.

"In future we need to expand our research to understand whether it can work in different educational settings, such as high schools, and whether it works equally well for pupils from different backgrounds," the researchers wrote.

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