Intervention boosts activity in kids, especially minorities

NEW ORLEANS, Nov. 10 A short, moderately intense exercise intervention helped third-graders switch to healthier activities such as soccer and swimming instead of watching TV, researchers reported at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2004.

The intervention focused on moderate to vigorous aerobic activities designed to engage the children. They started physical education (PE) classes with warm-up exercises, such as jumping rope, and spent the majority of time on vigorous non-competitive games that the children enjoyed. The school intervention involved 24 exercise lessons over eight weeks, with three sessions of 20 minutes each per week, at low or no cost to the schools.

"This modest, eight-week school intervention changed and heightened the intensity levels of the existing physical exercise program in the schools and benefited children by encouraging more vigorous physical activities and less sedentary activities at home," said lead author Tom H. Cook, Ph.D., R.N., assistant professor at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing in Nashville, Tenn.

Cook said African-American children, particularly girls, experienced the greatest increase in physical activity levels following the exercise intervention.

CVD is the No. 1 killer and a leading cause of disability in the United States. The behavioral risk factors of overweight/obesity such as a sedentary lifestyle begin during childhood and form the backdrop for CVD in adulthood.

Funded by the National Institutes of Health, the intervention study (which added a nutrition and family component) uses a public health model of intervention to prevent cardiovascular disease in children. It replicates and extends the Cardiovascular Health in Children (CHIC) study.

The study involved third-grade children in three metropolitan Nashville public schools in differing socio-economic communities. African-American children (55 total) were the largest group, followed by Caucasians

Contact: Carole Bullock
American Heart Association

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