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Does More Time Spent in P.E. Class Make Kids Stronger?

by Anne Spencer | Apr 24, 2013

For immediate release
April 23, 2013

Journalists: For a PDF of the study or to reach the author or another expert, contact:
Annie Spencer (317) 637-9200, ext. 133 (aspencer@acsm.org)
Dan Henkel (317) 637-9200, ext. 127 (dhenkel@acsm.org)

Does More Time Spent in P.E. Class Make Kids Stronger?

ACSM research links increased hours in school-based physical education to increased muscle strength

INDIANAPOLIS – An increase in time spent in physical education class helps kids develop stronger muscles, according to research published in the official journal of the American College of Sports Medicine. The study also concluded that increasing weekly physical activity did not increase risk of bone fractures.

This study, published in the May edition of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise®, indicates engaging in more minutes of physical activity per week enhances muscle strength without affecting fracture risk. Children participating in the study took part in up to 200 minutes of physical activity per week, in comparison to the standard curriculum of 60 minutes of physical education class per week.

"Regular weight-bearing exercise has been shown to consistently improve bone mass, structure and strength during childhood and adolescence," said the author, Bjarne Löfgren, M.D., of Lund University in Sweden. "It can also help reduce the risk of musculoskeletal diseases later on in adult years."

In the study, students in one Swedish school received increased physical education from 60 minutes per week to 40 minutes per day or 200 minutes per week for 2 years. A large number of children participated in the study: 417 girls and 500 boys in the intervention group and 836 girls and 872 boys in the control group. The two groups were compared using several measurements, including body weight and height, concentric isokinetic knee extension to test muscle strength, vertical jump height, lifestyle and physical activity habits.

"The results of this study showed that the increase in school-based physical activity time produced greater muscle mass and/or strength," said Löfgren. "This could have important implications on public health guidelines and recommendations for school-based physical activity."

Dr. Löfgren’s study complements a growing body of evidence linking students’ physical activity levels to increased academic achievement. To view the current U.S. Physical Activity Guidelines, please click here.

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The American College of Sports Medicine is the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world. More than 50,000 international, national and regional members and certified professionals are dedicated to advancing and integrating scientific research to provide educational and practical applications of exercise science and sports medicine.

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise® is the official journal of the American College of Sports Medicine, and is available from Lippincott Williams & Wilkins at 1-800-638-6423. For a complete copy of the research paper (Vol. 45, No. 5, pp: 997-1003) or to speak with a leading sports medicine expert on the topic, contact the Department of Communications and Public Information at 317-637-9200 ext. 133. Visit ACSM online at www.acsm.org.

The conclusions outlined in this news release are those of the researchers only, and should not be construed as an official statement of the American College of Sports Medicine.

The American College of Sports Medicine supports the 10 Criteria for Responsible Health Reporting as articulated by Health News Review.

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