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Study: Girls get less exercise than boys at kindergarten

A new study of 3-6-year-old children found that girls spent less time exercising rigorously than boys. The results are more pronounced when measured in daycare as opposed to the children's free time. Researchers who studied some 800 kids say the results may have significant health effects in the long run.

lapset laskevat liukumäestä
Girls in a Finnish study of kindergartens got less exercise than their male classmates. Image: Lenni Kuivalainen / Yle

Girls get significantly less exercise than boys in Finnish daycare centres, according to the latest findings from a study of 800 children. The Dagis study of pre-schoolers in Finland looks for energy balance-related behaviours in kids aged from 3 to 6.

When children wore activity trackers for a week at their kindergarten, girls were found to move less than boys. The difference was especially stark in the levels of vigorous exercise, with boys accumulating some 56 minutes per day and girls performing just 46 minutes.

Although the difference each day is not that great, it can add up to become a significant deficit over longer time periods.

"At this age different skills and habits are taught, which can be projected into later childhood and adulthood," said researcher Suvi Määttä of the Folkhälsän research centre. "In that way it can affect health now and long into the future."

The researchers did not find a significant difference in boys' and girls' exercise patterns at home, suggesting that further research on what causes the exercise gap at daycare is necessary. Dagis researchers suggested that both boys and girls could do with more exercise.

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