Inspirational Story of the Week: More Physical Activity, Less Screen Time Linked to Better Function
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A new study found that 24-month-old children who spent less than 60 minutes looking at screens each day and those who engaged in more physical activity had better executive function.
The toddlers’ program was designed according to the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines for physical activity, and their executive function was measured against a second group who did not meet these guidelines.
The study’s aim was to see the difference in the toddlers’ abilities to remember, plan, pay attention, shift between tasks, and regulate their own thoughts and behavior, a suite of skills known as executive function.
“Executive function underlies your ability to engage in goal-directed behaviors,” said University of Illinois professor Naiman Khan, who led the study.
“It includes abilities such as inhibitory control, which allows you to regulate your thoughts, emotions and behavior; working memory, by which you are able to hold information in mind long enough to accomplish a task; and cognitive flexibility, the adeptness with which you switch your attention between tasks or competing demands.”
Through its Bright Futures initiative, the AAP recommends that children spend less than 60 minutes looking at screens each day, engage in daily physical activity, consume five or more servings of fruits and vegetables and minimize or eliminate the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, which isn’t half-different from what the guidelines ought to be for adults by the way.
Previous studies have linked adherence to guidelines for physical activity levels, screen time and diet quality with executive function in school-aged or adolescent children.