15:49 15 August 2012
New research has revealed that 'couch potato' children are growing up unable to throw and catch a ball or benefit from basic balancing skills because they spend too much time glued to the TV.
A Portuguese team studied 110 girls and 103 boys aged 9-10 from 13 urban schools. Their contrasting sedentary behaviour and physical activity were objectively measured with accelerometers fastened to their waist to record their movement over the study's period of five days.
And the results were alarming: Children who spend upwards of 75% of their free time watching TV/playing video games have up to nine times worse coordination when compared to active children.
Those with the most sedentary lifestyles were unable to balance properly. Specifically they struggled to jump up and down, hop on one leg over an obstacle or shift a platform.
Dr Luis Lopes, of the University of Minho in Portugal, released a statement to the press: "Childhood is a critical time for the development of motor coordination skills which are essential for health and wellbeing.
"We know sedentary lifestyles have a negative effect on these skills and are associated with decreased fitness, lower self-esteem, decreased academic achievement and increased obesity."
The impact was worse on boys than girls. While the males who spent 76% of their time being 'couch potatoes' were 5-9 times less likely to have adequate motor co-ordination, girls who spent 77% of their time being inactive were only 4-5 times less likely to have proper motor skills.
On average the children spent 75.6% of their time being sedentary.
Dr Lopes said: "It is very clear from our study a high level of sedentary behaviour is an independent predictor of low motor coordination, regardless of physical activity levels and other key factors.
"High sedentary behaviour had a significant impact on the children's motor coordination, with boys being more adversely affected than girls."
Dr Lopes concluded: "The results demonstrate the importance of setting a maximum time for sedentary behaviour, while encouraging children to increase their amount of physical activity.
"We hope our findings will make a valuable contribution to the debate on child health and encourage future investigations on this subject."
The study was published in the American Journal of Human Biology.
Disclaimer: Supanet is not responsible for, and disclaims any and all liability for the content of comments written by contributors to this website