An Iowa State University research team is using a $400,000 federal grant to improve a physical activity tracking program for kids. ISU Professor of Kinesiology Greg Welk says the online tool provides a more accurate picture of how much exercise kids actually get each day.
“Schools might say, ‘well, we provide PE and recess, and so therefore we’ve given kids 30 minutes a day.’ But, the reality is kids might not actually be getting that much physical activity, those are just opportunities they have,” Welk says. Youth Activity Profile is the online system that tracks a child’s time spent exercising or at play.
Welk says the measurement tool focuses student’s patterns of physical exertion to encourage them to get up and moving. “Most schools measure fitness in children and kids are used to doing fitness assessments and those provide a lot of value. But, a key need in physical education is a way to help kids to learn about their physical activity habits because physical activity is how you eventually change your fitness,” Welk says.
The online tracker is filled out once a semester by students. The students report whether they walk or bike to school and answer other questions about their amount of physical activity. Then, the researchers pair that information with data collected from physical fitness monitors worn by a sample group of students. Health and fitness experts generally recommend children get at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day.
Reporting by Amanda Horvath, Iowa Public Radio