TV Time May Motivate Kids to Exercise
Using TV as a Reward for Walking Worked in Small Study of Obese Kids
Oct. 19, 2005 -- Want kids to exercise more? You may want to use their
fondness for TV to encourage them.
That strategy worked in a small study presented at the North American
Association for the Study of Obesity's annual scientific meeting, held in
TV viewing has been linked to childhood obesity, note the researchers. They
included Gary Goldfield, PhD, of Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario in
Goldfield's team struck a bargain with kids about TV time and physical
activity. All they needed were pedometers -- little devices that count steps
taken and distance walked or run. By the way, pedometers aren't just for kids.
In April, other researchers showed that pedometers
can be good motivators for adults who don't like to exercise.
Walk to View
Goldfield's study included 29 obese children aged 8-12. For eight weeks, all
of the kids wore pedometers.
Fourteen kids were told that they would earn an hour of TV-viewing time for
every 400 counts on their pedometers. The other kids didn't get TV time as a
reward for walking.
- Overall physical activity rose 69% in the TV group, compared with 16% in
the other group.
- Moderate-to-vigorous physical activity rose 35% in the TV group and dropped
6% in the other group.
A trend toward better BMI (body mass index) was also seen in the TV group,
the study shows.
Tube Time Dropped
TV time dropped for both groups. The drop was bigger in those who had to
earn TV-viewing time, but not by much (34% vs. 24%).
The study was short and small. Still, the researchers say TV may be
effective at motivating kids to be active.