Youngsters who spend majority of their time watching TV or playing computer games are up to nine times likely to have poorer motor coordination than their more active peers, revealed study by the University of Minho. Physical activity alone was not enough to surmount the harmful effect of sedentary behaviour on basic motor coordination skills.
The basic motor coordination skills such as walking, throwing or catching, are considered the building blocks of more complex movements. Dr Luis Lopes and team tracked the movements of more than two hundred children including boys and girl, aged nine and ten using accelerometers, a pedometer-like device to measure activity levels over five days.
The team evaluated their mmotor coordination with the help of KTK test, which includes jumping laterally, balance, hopping on one leg over an obstacle and shifting platforms.Taken together the findings are seen as a measure of a child’s co-ordination. On average, the children spent three-quarters of their time sedentary such as sitting, lying down or watching a TV or computer screen.
The impact on motor co-ordination was found to be greater on boys compared to girls. The girls who spent more than three-quarters of their time inactive four to five times less likely to normal co-ordination than those who sat less. However, the couch potato boys were five to nine times less likely to have normal co-ordination.
Lead author Dr Lopes, explained childhood is a critical time for the development of motor co-ordination skills which are essential for health and well-being. Sedentary lifestyles have a negative effect on these skills and are associated with decreased fitness, lower self-esteem, decreased academic achievement and increased obesity.
He further stated it is very clear from the study that 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 motor coordination, with boys being more adversely affected than girls.
The results demonstrate the importance of setting a maximum time for sedentary behaviour, while encouraging children to increase their amount of physical activity, concluded Dr Lopes. The study was published in the American Journal of Human Biology.