January 8, 2009

Gender Defines Activity for Kids, Elders

It doesn't matter how old you are -- males tend to move around more than females.

That's the message from British researchers conducting two major studies on physical activity levels. The first is looking at 10- and 11-year-old children during playground breaks at school. Results show girls are more likely to engage in small group activities centering on socialization. Boys opt for large group activities like football or other sports.

The second study is being conducted among people over age 70. While physical activity levels among all the participants is low -- for example, 70 percent of the people in the study take fewer than 5,000 steps each day -- it, too, is showing men are generally more active than women. Most of the difference comes from the fact that men get out of the house more often than women. Women do seem to engage in more low intensity activities, however, which the researchers credit to household chores.

Investigators in the school-aged study believe their results suggest schools should be more aware of the different ways boys and girls play, with an eye toward offering small group physical activities girls would enjoy. Researchers in the elder study are seeking the reasons behind their findings as well, hoping to promote activities aimed at helping older people improve both their physical fitness and mental capabilities.


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