"We purposely de-emphasized performance," said Davis, adding that it didn't really matter if they got the ball in the hoop as long as they achieved their target heart rate.
Their findings have important implications for designing school exercise programs in the future, she said, because many other programs tend to weed out less physically skilled kids and focus on a smaller group of more athletic kids.
One-third of American elementary school kids are overweight or obese, according to 2008 statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Type 2 diabetes is one of the most deadly and devastating consequences of obesity -- hence the importance of finding out how much exercise kids should get in order to prevent it.
Katz said the study shows that when it comes to how much exercise is helpful in cutting diabetes risk, "some is better none; more is better than some."