Daylight savings helps increase kids activity levels

By Efrosini Costa

Daylight savings helps increase kids activity levels
Moving our clocks forward by one extra hour means children are getting more exercise everyday, according to researchers.

A study of more than 20,000 children found that daily activities were 15 to 20 per cent higher on summer days than winter days.

The findings have led the team to recommend that the UK should increase waking daylight hours to have a worthwhile benefit on public health.

This weekend the clocks are set to go back by one hour in that part of the world, which means darker afternoons and fewer hours of daylight after school for children.

Researchers from the University of Bristol and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine  analysed the activity levels of children aged five to 16 years old in nine countries including England and Australia.

All the child participants wore accelerometers, electronic devices, around their waists to measure body movement.

The results from the study, published in the Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity, suggest more daylight hours could be beneficial to keep children active for longer.

The proposal to move the clocks forward by an hour for a whole year, and not move them back an hour in October, would give British children an extra 200 waking daylight hours and increase the average time spent doing moderate to vigorous activity from 33 to 35 minutes a dat.

Dr Anna Goodman, lead author of the study, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said an extra two minutes may not seem like much, “but it was not trivial in relation to children’s overall activity levels”.

“This study provides the strongest evidence to date that, in Europe and Australia, evening daylight plays a role in increasing physical activity in the late afternoon and early evening – the ‘critical hours’ for children’s outdoor play,” she added.

“Introducing additional daylight savings measures would affect each and every child in the country, every day of the year, giving it a far greater reach than most other potential policy initiatives to improve public health.”

The daylight savings- exercise effect applies to both girls and boys and to overweight and normal-weight children, as well as children from different socio-economic backgrounds, the study said.


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