Preschoolers Lead Sedentary Lives
It might seem hard to believe, but a new study contends that 3-year-olds aren’t getting enough physical activity.

Scientists from the University of Glasgow in Scotland tracked the movements of 78 3-year-olds for a week by clipping a small monitor onto each child’s waistband. The children wore the device upon waking up in the morning until going to bed at night. The monitors recorded both their physical activity and the number of calories they burned.

The study, published in a recent issue of the British medical journal The Lancet, concluded that the preschoolers:

• Burned about 1,300 calories per day (instead of the recommended 1,500 calories per day);

• Were physically active – moderate to vigorous activity, such as running, walking fast or active outside play – for just 20 minutes a day (much less than the recommended 60 minutes per day for that age group).

The scientists determined that the preschoolers weren’t really over-eating – which could have explained the fewer calories burned. Lead researcher John Reilly, a physiologist at the University of Glasgow, told the Associated Press that 3-year-olds actually eat about 25 percent less today than they did some 25 years ago, but that their activity levels have dropped significantly in the last two decades.

TV/VCR to Blame

He blamed caregivers’ reliance on television and recorded videos for keeping preschoolers much more sedentary than in the past. Young children didn’t watch as much television then, using their imaginations and their bodies to amuse themselves instead.

While the study involved children from the United Kingdom, the findings are significant to American children because of the epidemic of obesity here and concerns that kids generally lead much too sedentary lives.

What's a parent to do?
Check out our Games and Play listings for activities that get kids moving!