At the age 7 interviews, we asked if you and your child would help in an extra part of the study, to measure children’s physical activity. The health benefits of physical activity mean that official recommendations are that all children should engage in moderate to vigorous physical activity for at least 60 minutes every day. Vigorous activity means things like running, swimming or bike riding. It is also recommended that children should reduce the amount of time spent being sedentary, i.e. sitting.
We sent out state-of-art activity monitors: small, lightweight devices that contained a very small micro-chip and measured how much your child moved around. Children were asked to wear it during all waking hours for a week, apart from when bathing or swimming. Almost 13,000 of you agreed for your child to take part. Over 10,000 activity monitors were returned to us, each containing a very detailed record of your child’s movement. We now have over 83 million pieces of information and can now distinguish times when children were moving around very vigorously, moderately, lightly, or when they were sedentary.
We have also received about 7,000 timesheets documenting when the activity monitor was worn and recording any periods spent swimming or cycling. We are now reading and using this valuable information. Thank you for all of this.
We have discovered that children are, on average, more active at weekends than weekdays, and at certain times of the day: like at school play-times and after school. They are also most active during spring and least active during winter, particularly after school. As our work proceeds we will see how the results from the activity monitors fit in with other information that we collected at the interview about your family and child’s health and activities.
In the future we will also be able to find out if, and how, children’s activity at around age 7 leads to differences in health when they are older.
We are grateful that you helped make this the biggest ever nationwide account of 7-year-old’s physical activity. As work on the study continues we will keep you posted with interesting findings.