It may not be a surprising finding, but it’s an important one: a new study has found that children were between 15 and 20 per cent more active on summer than winter days. With more hours of sunlight, children had more time to get outside and move around.
The study, which was recently published in the International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity, was carried out by researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, which is based at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom.
The researchers, who examined 23,000 children aged five to 16, used accelerometers strapped around each child’s waist to determine body movement. They found that daylight saving time, which involves moving the clock back one hour in October, can have a dramatic impact on physical activity.
That’s why the researchers are suggesting that the United Kingdom consider moving clocks ahead by one additional hour for the entire year and not just back in the fall and ahead again in the spring. The University of Bristol team believes that move would give children 200 additional daylight hours, making it more likely that kids will head outside and play.
Overall, the change would only increase a child’s daily exposure to sunlight by a few minutes. However, the study’s lead author, Dr. Anna Goodman, says that is “not trivial in relation to children’s overall activity levels.”
“This study provides the strongest evidence to date that, in Europe and Australia, evening daylight plays a role in increasing physical activity in the late afternoon and early evening — the ‘critical hours’ for children’s outdoor play,” Goodman added.
“Introducing additional daylight savings measures would affect each and every child in the country, every day of the year, giving it a far greater reach than most other potential policy initiatives to improve public health.”