‘Sit still’ is a two-word phrase that is constantly thrown to children throughout the day, whether it is from daycare providers, teachers or parents. A new study reveals that extended periods of inactivity for kids can actually be harmful, and increase health issues as an adult, due to changes in blood circulation.
While there have been studies about adult inactivity, this is the first conducted with children. CNN reports the research team only used a small sample of nine girls between the ages of seven and ten. They measured their legs for blood flow, before and after the girls sat on beanbag chairs for three hours, playing video games or watching movies in the lab. The study then reviewed circulation changes during another session that lasted three hours; except this time, the young girls were asked to exercise for 10 minutes, every hour.
In the end, the research showed that the sessions with no activity resulted in a 33% reduction when it came to the flexibility of the thigh artery. Alternatively, no difference was shown in vessel flexibility when it came to those sessions that included a 10 minute exercise.
Alison McManus, the study’s lead author notes, the result of a stiffened artery of the thigh could enhance the risk of cardiovascular issues by 25%, until the vessel is able to regain flexibility. Still, the girls did show normal blood flow by the time they came back to the lab, a handful of days later. However, the issue is prolonged inactivity could have negative effects as it relates to the arteries and losing flexibility, and therefore increase chances of stroke or heart attacks later in life.
While the study only involved girls, Alan Hedge of Cornell University, who did not participate in the study, notes that boys who sit for prolonged periods of time would most likely have the same effects. He also notes that while the beanbag chairs used are terrible when it comes to cutting off circulation, ergonomic chairs can cause the same issues; though it might take longer sitting times.
Hedge also states, there might be advantages to kids moving or even standing for 10 minutes, every 30 minutes (despite the fact that the current study had the girls moving for 10 minutes on every hour). The added movement can assist the kids with proper muscle health, their bones, and staying alert.