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SU studying how pandemic has changed kids’ physical activity

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO News (file photo)
A fourth grade class at Dr. Weeks Elementary School in Syracuse.

Syracuse University researchers are trying to figure out the impact of the pandemic on children’s physical activity.

Exercise science experts are sending a survey to families across central New York, to get a handle on whether changes in schools and social distancing means kids are not getting the same amount of exercise, since before the pandemic. Ph.D. student Lindsey White said they will look at how different school schedules and changes in physical education classes have impacted kids. And she said they anticipate more kids in front of screens.

"We also ask questions about time spent on video games and computer games, basically trying to identify time spent in sedentary activities,” White said. “We expect with them home so much more now, that’s going to go up.”

Experts say children age six and older need at least an hour a day of physical activity. White said there can be long-term ramifications if they aren’t getting that.

"We know that activity levels in childhood kind of traject into adulthood and all the positive health benefits of being active," White said. "Also, now there’s a strong link between physical activity and mental health. And all these isolation and quarantines and orders for people to stay home, it’s also impacting people’s mental health.”

White expects to have results from the survey by mid-2021.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.