Schoolchildren who play ball games and do circuit training develop stronger bones, increased muscular strength, and improved balance, a British study suggests.
The study, from the University of Southern Denmark and University of Copenhagen, and published recently in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, examined bone and muscle health in 295 schoolchildren from Frederikssund and Copenhagen over an entire school year where the children participated in the “FIT FIRST” training concept.
FIT FIRST stands for “Frequent Intense Training — Football, Interval Running and Strength Training,” according to a media release from University of Southern Denmark Faculty of Health Sciences.
In the study, the researchers compared the effects on children who participated in the normal school PE classes with children who performed intense exercise for 2 hours per week in the form of ball games or circuit training consisting of gymnastics and strength exercises using their own body weight.
“Our research shows that intense exercise at school has clear positive effects on bone density, muscular strength and balance in 8-10-year-old children,” says the project leader Peter Krustrup, Professor of Sport and Health Sciences at the University of Southern Denmark, in the release.
“In the children in third grade who played ball games three against three or participated in circuit training for 3 x 40 minutes a week, muscular strength increased by 10% and balance improved by 15%, while the children’s bone density increased by a whole 45% compared to the control group. These types of sports are great ways for children to ‘put bone in the bank,’” he adds.
Malte Nejst Larsen, assistant professor at the University of Southern Denmark, continues by saying, “The study shows that bone density in the ball-game group rose by 7% in the legs and by 3% in the body as a whole, giving a real boost to bone health. Exercise in school for children aged 8-10 which improves bone density, muscular strength, and balance is the first big step towards preventing osteoporosis later in life.”
[Source(s): University of Southern Denmark Faculty of Health Sciences, Science Daily]