Are kids who spend time outdoors more physically active than those who don’t?

November 1, 2014

The answer to this question is “yes,” according to results of a study in 306 youngsters aged 9 to 17 years, which showed a link between increased after-school time spent outdoors and a boost in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity and its related health benefits.

 

The answer to this question is “yes,” according to a study in 306 youngsters aged 9 to 17 years, which showed a link between increased after-school time spent outdoors and a boost in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity and its related health benefits.

The study was conducted in the winter and spring terms of the 2008-2009 academic school year. Participants completed a questionnaire about how much time they spent outdoors after school during a 7-day period and wore waist-mounted accelerometers for a similar length of time to determine their activity level. Among all participants, 17% reported spending no time outdoors after school; 44% said they spent some time outdoors; and 39% reported spending most or all after-school time outdoors.

Moderate-to-vigorous physical activity increased along with the amount of time reported spent outdoors, and sedentary activity decreased commensurately. In addition, youngsters who spent most or all after-school time outdoors had greater cardiorespiratory fitness, although investigators saw no differences across the groups in overweight/obesity or blood pressure levels (Schaefer L, et al. J Pediatr. 2014;165[3]:516-521).

Ms Freedman is a freelance medical editor and writer in New Jersey. Dr Burke, section editor for Journal Club, is chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at Saint Agnes Hospital, Baltimore, Maryland. The editors have nothing to disclose in regard to affiliations with or financial interests in any organizations that may have an interest in any part of this article.