21 November 2012

Health effects of playing ball games in school

Photo: Bo Kousgaard

Photo: Bo Kousgaard

Physical activity plays a decisive role in the prevention of many illnesses common in contemporary society. A rising number of Danish school children (from the fourth grade on up) aren’t physically active enough, since fewer play sports in their free time.

Studies show that children who are involved in regular sports club activities have better heart and bone health than children who are not members of local sports clubs. Ball games also have a positive effect on bone mineral composition and bone density, corresponding to the type of sport played.

Research shows that the intensity during different team sports such as ex football is high for children. Photo: Bo Kousgaard.

Research shows that the intensity during different team sports such as ex football is high for children. Photo: Bo Kousgaard.

Newer studies from our research group have also shown that children play certain team sports, such as soccer and basketball, with high intensity. Our research has already shown beneficial cardiovascular, muscle and skeletal effects from soccer training on adults. It’s still not clear if the same benefits are transferable to children. Part of this project’s overall goal is to evaluate the effects of different types of ball games on heart and bone health, as well as physical adaptation and educational results among schoolchildren.

Short-term implementation programs in schools featuring physical activity can be effective in terms of increasing health, since they are able to reach every child in the school - including those who are in poor physical shape, are overweight, or have low bone density.

Study 1 looks into the effects of regular soccer training on heart and bone health among 9-11 year old schoolchildren.

The study evaluates the difference between short and long-term training, and will determine how the training schedule (for short periods several times a week or a longer period fewer times a week) and the type of training (soccer, running or strength training) affects the child’s response level.

Study 2 investigates the intensity and training effects of playing ball games on schoolchildren aged 6-16.

The study will map training intensity in ball games such as basketball, floorball and soccer, and compare them with other activities in physical education classes. The study will also evaluate the extent to which short-term high-intensity school sports are enough to improve children’s physical fitness and metabolic health profile.

The project will be run in close co-operation with, among others, Gentofte Hospital.