Sedentariness and physical activity of children at school is an occupational health issue
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Background Sedentary behaviour, light activity and moderate or vigorous physical activity are linked to major chronic diseases in adults. For adult workers, occupational activity contributes substantially to overall exposure. Despite considerable concern about the activity profiles of school children, there is limited data comparing their 'occupational' (school) and non-occupational (non-school) sedentary behaviour and activity. Aims The aim of this study was to compare sedentary behaviour, light activity, moderate and vigorous physical activity of school children during school time with non-school time on school days as well as to compare school days with weekend days. Methods A cross sectional observational design study was used to gather activity data on 53 children aged 10-12 years. Accelerometers were worn for a week. Intensity of activity was categorised based on accelerometer counts per minute thresholds. Results Children spent a greater proportion of school time in potentially health detrimental sedentary behaviours (school time 66% vs non-school time 62%) with less exposure to potentially health supporting light activity (25% vs 32%). Conversely children also spent a greater proportion of their school time in health supporting moderate (8% vs 5%) and vigorous (1.4% vs 0.7%) physical activity and a greater proportion of children met daily moderate and vigorous physical activity guidelines on school days (49% vs 17%). Conclusion 'Occupational' exposure for children contributes significantly to their overall activity profile and schools, parents and interested professionals should work towards school systems which promote health beneficial activity exposures for children.
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