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College of Human Ecology

Professor puts Girl Scouts to work

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Promoting physical activity during Girl Scout meetings can be an effective way for young girls to get the exercise they need to be healthy, according to Richard Rosenkranz, assistant professor in human nutrition.

He applied physical activity intervention strategies in three Girl Scout troops, training group leaders to instruct and lead exercise sessions among troop members.

Compared to four troops who received no physical activity intervention, the intervention troops spent significantly more time participating in and learning about exercise, and performed much higher levels of both moderate-intensity and moderate-to-vigorous intensity exercise during troop meetings.

Rosenkranz presented his study recently at the American College of Sports Medicine's 56th Annual Meeting in Seattle.

"Implementing these physical activity strategies was relatively simple - all it took was a brief training to boost the skills and confidence of the troop leaders," Rosenkranz said.

"I believe it would be feasible to take this education to a broader scale, to get girls the physical activity they need. Encouraging physical activity when girls are already gathered in groups is an effective strategy as well, and can cement the idea of exercise being fun and socially acceptable."

Girl Scouts in Rosenkranz's study averaged between 10 and 11 years of age. The interventions also successfully negated differences in exercise amounts among various ethnicity groups, an important finding because minorities statistically accumulate lower amounts of physical activity.

Traditionally, young girls are less physically active than their male counterparts, especially as they age. Federal physical activity guidelines, released in October 2008, recommend that all children perform at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per day.

Source: American College of Sports Medicine

This article was posted on Wednesday, June 3, 2009, and is filed under Food, Nutrition, Dietetics and Health.