Here’s good news for parents of kids whose noses are seemingly glued to screens: Recent research shows that even just 20 minutes of exercise three times a week will go a long way to make your child healthier--including reduce body fat.
Researchers, led by Kathryn Weston, a senior lecturer in applied biosciences at Teeside University in the UK, have coined the exercise routine they used in the study as FFAB, for Fun Fast Activity Blasts, and involves short intervals of high-intensity physical activity with rests in between. The study was published in the journal PLOS One.
For the study, 101 kids were grouped into two, the first had to do FFAB training three times a week and the second group was to be monitored but were to receive no intervention whatsoever. Beforehand, both groups had to go through physical exams that measured their blood fat and body fat, weigh, blood pressure, glucose levels and more. Plus, for a week before and a week after the study, both groups were asked to wear accelerometers to measure their overall activity levels.
Each of the FFAB training sessions starts with a 5-minute warm up. The bulk of the training involved four 45-second bursts of activity with 90-second rest intervals in between. At the end of the session was a 5-minute cool-down exercise.
The students could choose between four different sports for their FFAB training exercises. There was basketball, boxing, dance and soccer. Basketball, for example, included activities like dribbling, running and passing basketballs. Dance included activities with high kicks and pom poms.
Results showed that the kids who went through FFAB training were fitter and healthier than their counterparts. Their medical exams after the study revealed that their average waist circumference were 1.5 inches smaller and that they engaged in 16 more minutes of daily physical activity outside of the exercise sessions. Their blood pressure and total cholesterol were also better but not enough that it proved to be significant.
FFAB is definitely an idea that can be easily replicated and modified, and the researchers believe it too. Requiring only 20 minutes a day and applicable to many kinds of sports, it’s something you can encourage your child to do, and doing it with him can engage him more.
You and your child can dance around the room for 20 minutes, for example, with rests in between just like in FFAB. You can also play outdoor games that get the blood pumping, like tag and patintero. Even pretend games could get you and your child moving. Pretend you’re bunnies and hop for 45-seconds. Rest for 90-seconds, then pretend you’re kangaroos and do kicks and punches. All it takes is 20 minutes.