Page last updated at 12:47 GMT, Monday, 23 November 2009

'Intense' child exercise studied

Overweight child ready for PE
The researchers believe their findings could change the way PE is taught

The benefits of intense exercise among school children are being examined by researchers from the University of the West of Scotland (UWS).

The study, involving youngsters from Holy Cross High School in Lanarkshire, aims to show the intensity of exercise is more important than its duration.

The researchers have devised a high intensity exercise plan for the study.

The children had their fitness assessed in September and will be examined again to see what has changed for them.

The study is said to be the first of its kind in Scotland and has been launched in response to what UWS called a lack of clinical evidence proving the exercise recommended for this age group - one hour per day moderate activity - has any short or long-term health benefits.

Project leader Professor Julien Baker said: "It is widely accepted that during adolescence there seems to be a rapid decline in the type and intensity of physical activity engaged in.

"The potential therefore for physical education within schools to affect young people's physical activity levels should not be underestimated.

"The duration, type, and intensity of exercise needed to get cardiovascular and psychological health benefits in young people remains unclear and as a result of this research we hope to get a better understanding of the best approaches to physical education in Scotland's secondary schools."

Prof Baker, who leads the exercise and health sciences research unit at UWS, hopes to show that a curriculum of higher intensity, shorter duration exercise results in greater health benefits.

Overweight child
Finding ways to tackle teenage obesity is on the researchers' agenda

He continued: "This curriculum would not only be easier to deliver by secondary schools but it would also have greater health benefits to pupils.

"In addition it would also have wider implications with regards the way amateur and professional athletes should train to maximise their fitness levels."

More than 60 fifth and sixth year pupils at Holy Cross High School are involved, and they have had their blood tested for health markers like cholesterol and lipid levels. Their body mass and blood pressure is also being assessed before and after the eight week programme of exercise.

The study sees pupils split into three different groups.

Two groups will perform the approved anaerobic shuttle run test at different intensity levels, with one group maintaining their normal PE routine.

This will enable the researchers to compare a high intensity, short duration exercise routine with what is currently taught in Scottish secondary education.

A second phase of the £13,000 Scottish government funded project will be run in the new year.



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SEE ALSO
Children 'not exercising enough'
23 Nov 09 |  Scotland
Committee criticises PE 'failure'
14 May 09 |  Scotland
Motivators to get pupils active
05 Mar 09 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West
Exercise 'five times a week' call
29 Apr 04 |  Health
Child obesity 'not being tackled'
04 Sep 08 |  Scotland

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