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More active children develop better motor skills, study finds.

More active children develop better motor skills, study finds.

There is no denying that kids these days are a lot more tech-savvy than they were in generations past, a fact that has both positive and negative ramifications. Hours spent in front of the television, combined with a consistent diet heavy in saturated fats and lacking in essential nutrients, has made childhood obesity a growing concern across the country. However, research has shown that there may be more cause for concern.

This week, a new study led by Dr. Luis Lopes at the University of Minho in Portugal and published in the American Journal of Human Biology has revealed that children who spend most of their time – about 75 percent of it – in a sedentary position had motor coordination skills that were as much as nine times worse than children with more active lifestyles.

In order to determine the impact that a relatively motionless lifestyle had on motor coordination development in children, Dr. Lopes and his researchers observed the activities of over 100 elementary school boys and girls, respectively, from urban areas. The team tracked their movements for five days by attaching a monitoring device to their hips.

Young girls who spent roughly 75 percent or more time in a relatively inactive state reportedly had motor skills that were four to five times less likely to have fully developed motor coordination skills than more energetic female subjects, For boys, that number the ratio was to five to nine times less.

According to Dr. Lopes, "childhood is a critical time for the development of motor coordination," which dictates how our body parts coordinate with each other through movement. If this ability is impaired, it can lead to "decreased fitness, lower self-esteem, decreased academic achievement and increased obesity," he adds.

Dr. Lopes concludes that, based on these findings, monitoring and restricting a child's sedentary time early on may play an important role in his or her ongoing development.

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