DCU research finds children’s activity levels affect their later lives

Michelle Cullen

DCU researchers have found that children with a higher level of fundamental movement skills are less likely to suffer from medical conditions such as heart disease and obesity in later life.

The paper published in the European Journal of Sports Science examined how fundamental skills such as running, jumping, skipping, and hopping contribute to healthier outcomes for children.

The research suggests that by developing a child’s fundamental movement skills improvements could be seen by up to 25% in body composition; 50% in muscular strength and could positively impact cardiovascular endurance by over 16%. 

The study, carried out by Dr Stephen Behan, Dr Sarahjane Belton, Dr Cameron Peers and Dr Johann Issartel from the School of Health and Human Performance DCU and Prof Noel O’Connor from the Insight Centre for Data Analytics DCU, is the first of its kind, after accessing 2000 primary school children aged 5-12 it examined the relationship between fundamental movement and health-related fitness components. 

Researcher Dr Stephen Behan said, “It’s not all bad news we know fundamental skills are low in Ireland but the good news is we also know that we can address them and that we can improve them in a relatively short period of time.”

Dr Behan suggested that the best way for parents to improve their children’s fundamental movement skills is to go out and play. 

He said, “It doesn’t have to be hours upon hours it can be 10-15-minute bursts. Encourage them to be active as best you possibly can, set good examples and in-still those habits at an early age.”

“I always liken it to learning how to read so, we don’t give kids a book to read. First off, we teach them the alphabet, we teach them the letters, how to form words, how to form sentences etc. so eventually they can read the book. It’s the same thing with movement, to give them the basic building blocks of a wide range of skills and that sets the foundation for them then to be active for life,” said Behan.

Currently, children in Ireland are given one hour of PE (Physical Education) a week to exercise. 

“I’d love to see more PE but at the same time, I think that schools have an awful lot to do and it shouldn’t be their responsibility to do this type of stuff. I think that a lot of that responsibility would rest with the parents,” said Behan.

Last week DCU released movement break videos with Muinteoir John from the Home School Hub on RTE. The videos are a useful resource for parents to improve their children’s fundamental movement skills while homeschooling. 

Michelle Cullen

Image credit: DCU

Note: This article was reuploaded on 26/03/2021 due to a fault with The College View website.