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Simply Fit, by Cindy Haskin-Popp, will help you make physical activity a part of everyday life. The health benefits of regular exercise and overall daily physical activity will be discussed. Fun, practical and easy-to-follow tips on an exercise program will be shared, as will the most current research. Fitness tips for families and seniors, on fitness centers and on buying proper and affordable equipment will be regularly given. 

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Buddy System Gets Kids Active

When I was a kid, my friends and I didn't need adults to schedule physical activity for us. Exercise was already a natural component of our daily interactions with one another. Whether we were playing "cops and robbers" on our bikes in the neighborhood or wading in the creek nearby, we were moving and didn't think twice about it. Unfortunately, now-a-days, most children are not meeting the minimum requirement of an hour of exercise a day, despite the plethora of community-based family fitness and sports programs designed to get kids active.

In response to this discrepancy, researchers from the University of Bristol in Bristol, United Kingdom set out to determine the effect that a best friend has on a child's activity level. Investigators studied 472 boys and girls ages 10 to 11 years. Here is what they found:
  • Activity level is positively correlated to the best friend's activity level for both boys and girls; however, the predicting factors of the best friend's influence on activity level differ between genders. For boys, activity level is directly related to the best friend's activity level. For girls, those who engage in active play with their best friend obtain higher levels of physical activity than those girls who do not.
  • Activity level was greater for both boys and girls when they actively played with their best friend in the home or neighborhood setting compared to those children who just engaged in active play with their best friend at school.
  • Participating on a sports team with a best friend was not associated with an increase in the amount of time spent being physically active.
  • Boys and girls who engaged in greater amounts of active play had lower Body Mass Index scores.
  • Boys spent more time in active play than girls.
The investigators concluded that efforts made to improve children's physical activity levels should focus on encouraging active play with best friends, particularly outside of the school setting.

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise; "Better with a Buddy: Influence of Best Friends on Children's Physical Activity"; Russel Jago, et al.; February 2011.

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