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Physical activity leads to fewer sick days for young children, study finds

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Posted at 3:03 PM, Jan 26, 2023

Data released this week indicate that lower physical activity among children ages 4-7 is associated with a higher frequency of respiratory tract infections.

The data released by the Medical University of Warsaw looked at the number of steps children took in a given day and their participation in sports. The study indicated that an increase of 1,000 steps per day could reduce the number of days that child has upper respiratory tract infections by as much as four days during the peak of the cold season.

The study also found that the severity of upper respiratory tract infections was reduced among children who are more physically active.

The study indicates that upper respiratory infections cost the U.S. economy $40 billion and account for 10% of emergency room visits.

“Parents of preschool children should encourage their wards to engage in PA every day, creating opportunities and possibilities for PA involving entire families, especially if their children do not regularly participate in sports activities,” the authors wrote.

While upper respiratory infections aren’t among the diseases listed, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that exercise can reduce the risk and severity of many chronic diseases.

The CDC’s guidelines suggest children up to age 17 should get up to one hour per day of physical activity.