Medical College of Georgia, Ga.

I'm Dr. Catherine Davis, Clinical Health Psychologist at theMedical College of Georgia Medical College of Georgia. I'm here to tell you about a study that we just completed with overweight children who were exercising in a vigorous way, everyday after school. They either exercised for 20 minutes or 40 minutes a day, and a comparison group was not exercising at all. In the children who were exercising, we observed some significant benefits to their health. They had reduced fatness, increased bone density, and improved insulin resistance, which means they were at lower risk for type 2 diabetes.

This is very important because children developing type 2 diabetes in adolescence in these days has meant that they're going to be experiencing some serious consequences in their adult years when they would be, normally, very productive members of society. And it will also affect the next generation when these folks reproduce. So the type 2 diabetes is essential. We were able to reduce their fatness but we did not cure their overweight. They did not turn into lean children, but if they maintain their activity level over a number of years, they could grow into their weight.

And we also observed a very important benefit on these children's cognition. They were more able to control their thinking in ways that could be very helpful in school. They were improved on executive function, which is basically what children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder have the most difficulty with. So they're more able to inhibit their impulses and better able to make good decisions. So this could be very important for school achievement and in fact we did observe some benefits on academic achievement in the mathematics arena.

So essentially, activity is essential for children. Even without any changes in diet we were able to observe very important benefits to their health. And the take home message is that: parents and educators, please involve your children in vigorous physical activity each day. Make sure they enjoy it so that they'll keep it up for years.

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