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Extra hour of daylight could benefit children's health

I’ve never really understood the rationale behind daylight savings time - and being deprived of an extra hour of light in the winter. I never really get that extra hour of sleep, I hate the fact that I’m driving in the dark by the time I leave work, and as a parent, the shift can be tricky when it comes to bedtime routines. (OK, end of rant).

As it turns out, an extra hour of daylight might also have other benefits besides making me happy: New research from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine shows that when daytime lasted the longest, children spent more time outside being physically active. In the study, devices called accelerometers, which record body movements, were placed around the waists of 325 British children for 817 days spread over the four seasons, and the children, ages 8-11, also kept a diary of their daily routines. According to a release:

The highest overall level of activity (mainly outdoor play) was recorded during the long summer days (with 14 or more hours of daylight). The researchers point out that the biggest difference between long days and short or medium days was between 5pm and 8pm which is what would be expected if day light rather than weather were the key factor. In addition the trend remained constant after taking in account bad weather days (rain, cloudy sky and wind).


Part of the explanation for the increased physical activity on longer days seemed to be the greater amount of time children spent playing. On long days, the children recorded spending 22% of their time taking part in out-of-home play in afternoons and early evenings, while the figure decreased significantly when the day became shorter (13% on medium and short days; 12.6 to 10 hours and less than 9.5 hours respectively). Other activities like organised sports such as football were barely affected by the length of the day.

Anna Goodman, PhD, who led the study, thinks these longer days could help combat childhood obesity. "The fact that kids spend more time playing outdoors and are more physically active overall on these longer days could be important at a population-level for promoting their fitness and in preventing child obesity," she said.

Via The Checkup
Previously Understanding the impact of sedentary behavior on children's healthSeries looks at the physiology of sedentary behaviorStanford hosts conference on the science of sedentary behaviorIs your child getting enough excercise?, and Does TV watching, or prolonged sitting, contribute to child obesity rates?
Photo by Kazz.0

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