Kid Couch Potatoes Have Poorer Motor Skills

Children who spend too much time being inactive may lag behind other kids in motor coordination, hampering skills like running, throwing, and catching, a Portuguese study finds.

Boys who spend three-quarters of their time being sedentary are five to nine times less likely to have normal motor coordination than more active boys, even if they get higher levels of exercise when they’re not being sedentary, Luis Lopes of the University of Minho in Portugal and his colleagues found. Sedentary girls are  around four to five times less likely to have good motor coordination than their active peers.

“Childhood is a critical time for the development of motor-coordination skills which are essential for health and well-being,” Lopes says. “We know that sedentary lifestyles have a negative effect on these skills and are associated with decreased fitness, lower self-esteem, decreased academic achievement and increased obesity.”

Parents should set a “maximum time for sedentary behavior” daily, Lopes suggests. Making sure your children have active friend groups may also reduce the time they spend being inactive, studies show.

The study appears online in the American Journal of Human Biology.

(Photo © Tempophage via Flickr)