Each month, Ask the Experts explores questions asked by patients and their families. To suggest a question, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: MY SON PLAYS ON AN AFTER-SCHOOL BASEBALL TEAM. IS THAT ENOUGH EXERCISE TO SATISFY HIS DAILY REQUIREMENT?
A. Not necessarily. Interestingly, participation in organized sporting activities does not seem to ensure an adequate level of physical activity for children and adolescents.
One recent study from the United States used accelerometers to monitor 200 children aged 7 to 14 years while they were participating in a variety of sports and sports training programs.1 These researchers found that, despite participation in organized sporting activities, only 24% of the children studied spent 60 minutes daily engaged in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity.
Additionally, fewer than 10% of 11- to 14-year-olds and only a measly 2% of female softball players in the study met the recommended guidelines for daily physical activity. The authors noted a wide range of physical activity level across different sports, with the highest levels occurring in soccer and the lowest in baseball and softball. They also identified potential “protective” factors: males, younger children (ages 7 to 10 years), and soccer players spent more time being physically active than their study counterparts.1
Another recent study to come out of the United States used accelerometers to measure physical activity levels in 9-year-old children during a soccer match. These researchers found that, despite participating in an organized soccer match, only 24% of the 111 children studied met the recommended daily goal of 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. Fully 49% of time spent during the soccer match was in sedentary (ie, non-moving) activity, and only 33% of match time qualified as moderate-to-vigorous activity.2
Unfortunately, for many children it seems as if participating in organized sports does not guarantee adequate physical activity.
- Leek D, Carlson JA, Cain KL, et al. Physical activity during youth sports practices. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2011;165(4):292–299 doi:10.1001/archpediatrics.2010.252 [CrossRef] .
- Sacheck JM, Nelson T, Ficker L, et al. Physical activity during soccer and its contribution to physical activity recommendations in normal weight and overweight children. Pediatr Exerc Sci. 2011;23(2):281–292.