Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Kids get more active when given more toy choices, studies show

Date:
April 18, 2012
Source:
University at Buffalo
Summary:
In an age when even preschoolers have electronic toys and devices, many parents wonder how to get their children to be more physically active. Now, two studies provide some answers.

In an age when even preschoolers have electronic toys and devices, many parents wonder how to get their children to be more physically active. Now, two studies published by University at Buffalo researchers provide some answers. The UB studies are among the few laboratory-controlled studies of how the choice and type of toys given to children affects their physical activity. Study subjects were 8-12 years old.

The goal of the research, led by James Roemmich, PhD, associate professor of pediatrics in the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, was to identify basic factors that make children more physically active.

"We wanted to see if providing children with choices or autonomy -- the ability for the individual to decide how he or she wanted to be physically active -- increased their intrinsic motivation to be physically active," said Roemmich.

The results showed that giving children more toy choices markedly increases their physical play, especially in girls. And giving children the opportunity to master games -- including exergames, such as Wii games -- also increases their physical play. The first UB study, published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sports, found that when there was only one toy to play with, boys engaged in 1.3 times longer active play than the girls.

But when children were provided access to a choice of active toys, physically active play time increased by nearly 200 percent for girls, compared to an increase of just 42 percent for boys.

"We were quite surprised to find such a significant difference between boys and girls," says Roemmich.

Previous studies in the field have consistently revealed that girls are less active than boys.

"But giving girls a choice of physical activities made their level of physical play equal to that of boys," says Denise M. Feda, co-author on both studies and UB postdoctoral associate in the Division of Behavioral Medicine of the UB Department of Pediatrics, where the studies were conducted.

"Girls may enjoy the cognitive task of choosing toys, evaluating them and selecting which to play with, whereas the selection process and thinking about the toys may be less appealing to boys," the paper states.

In the same study, average exercise intensity increased for both genders when children were provided with a choice of toys. Active toys involved in the study included mini hockey, bean bag toss combined with tic-tac-toe, mini indoor basketball and jump rope. In a second UB study published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, the UB researchers looked more closely at how autonomy and mastery -- a force that motivates the child to develop proficiency -- increased a child's intrinsic motivation for physical activity.

That study revealed that a combination of autonomy and mastery were most powerful in increasing children's' physical activity time.

The UB researchers wanted to know if the mastery component of exergames or Wii games would motivate children to increase play time, reducing the need for choice to motivate activity, explains Roemmich.

"Indeed, we found that the combination of autonomy (choosing from several different games) and mastery (playing exergames) produced the greatest increases in physical activity time," says Roemmich.

However, he adds, increasing physical activity time isn't the whole story. Roemmich says that while the children played Wii games for twice as long as they played traditional versions of the same games, such as basketball, boxing, golf and hockey, they expended only half the energy during Wii games.

"In traditional games, children expend a lot of energy chasing after balls and pucks, while with exergames, they are just waiting for the game to reset," says Roemmich. So what should parents do?

"Focus on finding 3 to 5 active games that your children like and make them easily accessible around the home," says Roemmich. These can be dance or yoga DVDs, exergames, or mini versions of basketball and hockey for in-home use.

And, he says, exergames do have their place. "If an exergame displaces watching TV or playing a videogame, then even the lighter intensity physical activity is preferable." Outside the home, he says, seek a variety of activities ranging from formal to aerobic dance, to zoomba, basketball or martial arts. And he suggests that parents seek out fitness centers and youth centers that promote autonomy and choice by not charging extra for such choice of programming.

Roemmich led the research and co-authored the papers with Feda, Jacob Barkley, PhD, of Kent State University and Karl F. Kozlowski, PhD, clinical assistant professor, and former graduate students Maya Lambiase and Thomas F. McCarthy, all of the Department of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, UB School of Public Health and Health Professions.

The studies were funded by the National Institutes of Health.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University at Buffalo. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Denise M. Feda, Maya J. Lambiase, Thomas F. McCarthy, Jacob E. Barkley, James. N. Roemmich. Effect of increasing the choice of active options on children's physically active play. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 2012; DOI: 10.1016/j.jsams.2011.12.004

Cite This Page:

University at Buffalo. "Kids get more active when given more toy choices, studies show." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 April 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120418203620.htm>.
University at Buffalo. (2012, April 18). Kids get more active when given more toy choices, studies show. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120418203620.htm
University at Buffalo. "Kids get more active when given more toy choices, studies show." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120418203620.htm (accessed April 23, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Big Pharma Braces for M&A Wave

Big Pharma Braces for M&A Wave

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 22, 2014) Big pharma on the move as Novartis boss, Joe Jimenez, tells Reuters about plans to transform his company via an asset exchange with GSK, and Astra Zeneca shares surge on speculation that Pfizer is looking for a takeover. Joanna Partridge reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Study Says Most Crime Not Linked To Mental Illness

Study Says Most Crime Not Linked To Mental Illness

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) A new study finds most crimes committed by people with mental illness are not caused by symptoms of their illness or disorder. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hagel Gets Preview of New High-Tech Projects

Hagel Gets Preview of New High-Tech Projects

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is given hands-on demonstrations Tuesday of some of the newest research from DARPA _ the military's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency program. (April 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Smaller Plates And Cutlery Could Make You Feel Fuller

How Smaller Plates And Cutlery Could Make You Feel Fuller

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) NBC's "Today" conducted an experiment to see if changing the size of plates and utensils affects the amount individuals eat. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins