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5,000 steps a day helping our children beat obesity

CHILDREN can run nearly two and a half miles an hour while they are playing without even knowing it, a new test has shown.

A pedometer test to find out how fit Irish children are found that they can take an average of 4,800 steps in just one hour of having fun.

For an adult to achieve the same amount of exercise, they would have to play 26 minutes of a professional singles tennis match at 178 steps per minute, or do 19 minutes of vigorous cycling, measured at 250 steps a minute.



Vacuum cleaning for 47 minutes by adults would also see them achieving the same results, at 101 steps a minute, or 26 minutes of circuit training if they did 178 steps a minute.

The pedometer test was carried out on a sample of 50 children at Fort Lucan, an adventure centre in Dublin.

"The figure of 4,800 steps per child is excellent. It means that youngsters will have travelled over nearly two and a half miles in an hour, running up ladders, scaling walls and crossing bridges," said Gillian Martin-Smith, the centre's manager.

"Getting kids out and about doing good old-fashioned healthy activities is great for fitness, imagination and creativity."

The centre runs camps every Sunday, with personal trainers to keep children in shape. Figures show that 29pc of Irish nine-year-olds are overweight.

Meanwhile, experts say that children should should do at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day.

But the majority (86pc) of children spend more than two hours a day in front of TV, DVDs or computer games, Irish research has shown.

Meanwhile, a recent EU report showed that Irish primary pupils spend less time on PE than other schoolchildren across the rest of Europe.

And the situation is not much better when they move into second level.

The low priority for PE in schools comes in the face of rising obesity among Irish children and adults.



The Physical Education and Sport at School report from the EU's Eurydice service found large discrepancies between countries in the amount of time they spend on PE, with Ireland at the bottom of the table.

In Irish primary schools, the recommended minimum time for PE is only an hour a week – 37 hours a year – the lowest of 30 countries.

More than half of Irish schools do not have a PE hall, so lessons are weather-dependent.