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Short exercise benefits third-graders

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NASHVILLE, Nov 10, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- Researchers say brief, moderately intense exercise helped third-graders switch to healthier activities, such as soccer and swimming, instead of watching TV.

The study by the Vanderbilt University nursing school in Nashville, Tenn., said the exercise intervention focused on moderate to vigorous aerobic activities designed to engage the children.

They started physical education classes with warm-up exercises, such as jumping rope, and then spent the majority of time on vigorous non-competitive games that the children enjoyed.

The school intervention involved 24 exercise lessons over eight weeks, with three sessions of 20 minutes each per week, at low or no cost to the schools.

"This modest, eight-week school intervention changed and heightened the intensity levels of the existing physical exercise program in the schools and benefited children by encouraging more vigorous physical activities and less sedentary activities at home," said Tom Cook, the study's lead author.

Cook said African-American children, particularly girls, experienced the greatest increase in physical activity levels following the exercise intervention.

Results of the research were reported to the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2004 in New Orleans.

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.

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