Negative effects of lockdowns on children now include worse balance as a new study finds

Restrictions on children’s activities during pandemic lockdowns have affected their ability to stand upright.

School closures threw young people’s lives into chaos and were linked to an increase in social problems, mental health problems and developmental delay.

Now a study has found that closures also affect children’s balance skills, as they spend more time on technology and not enough time outside playing with peers.

Study leader Dr. Tadashi Ito, a motion analysis expert from Nagoya University, said: ‘Restrictions on children’s opportunities for physical activity due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus have had a significant impact on the development of physical function and lifestyle. and can cause physical complaints. deterioration and health problems in the future.’

Children'S Sense Of Balance Was Compromised During The Pandemic As After-School Sports Were Restricted, Children Could Not Play Outside With Friends As Much And As A Result Spent More Time On Screens

Children’s sense of balance was compromised during the pandemic as after-school sports were restricted, children could not play outside with friends as much and as a result spent more time on screens

The abrupt change in the way children become physically active hindered their ability to tighten the body’s muscles, which help with balance while moving. For example, walking requires you to stand on one leg at a time. Weak leg muscles make that very difficult.

It also meant kids slept less, had a higher body fat percentage BLA BLA

The study was conducted by doctors from Nagoya University and the Aichi Prefectural Mikawa Aoitori Medical and Rehabilitation Center for Developmental Disabilities.

The researchers, led by Dr Ito, found that children in that age group were more likely to have impaired balance when moving during the pandemic.

Dr. Ito said: “Since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in Japan after April 2020, children at school have not been able to participate sufficiently in physical education, sports activities and outdoor games.

“It became clear that balance during exercise was easily compromised, lifestyle habits were disrupted, and body fat percentage was likely to increase.”

The team obtained medical exam results from 60 Japanese children aged nine to 15 before the pandemic started (between January 2018 and March 2020) and during its worst (from June 2020 to June 2022).

Their findings were published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

Only 40 children were included in the second sample after 20 were excluded due to underlying conditions that could bias the results, such as orthopedic, brain, respiratory and eye problems.

Child health screenings before and during Covid-19

Mean score for the two-step test (ratio of step distances to children’s height) –

  • Pre-pandemic: 1.6
  • During pandemic: 1.55

Mean score for one leg states test (ratio of standing time to leg length)

  • Pre-pandemic: 445.4
  • During pandemic: 431.1

Body fat percentage

  • Pre-pandemic: 13.2
  • During pandemic: 16.2

Physical activity (hours)

  • Pre-pandemic: 3
  • During pandemic: 5.5

Screen time (hours)

  • Pre-pandemic: 1.5
  • During pandemic: 2

Sleep time per day (hours)

  • Pre-pandemic: 9
  • During pandemic: 8

Balance was measured using the one-legged or one-legged stance test, or however long a child could stand on one leg with their eyes open.

Researchers also performed the two-step test, in which children were instructed to stand with their toes behind a starting line and take two steps, each as large as possible, then line up both their feet.

During the pandemic, children clearly scored lower than before on both tests.

Before the pandemic, they also averaged 13 percent body fat. Over time, however, that percentage increased to an average of about 16 percent.

However, the time spent exercising before and during the pandemic did not differ much.

Children who engage in physical activities at home, on sidewalks and roads, lead researchers to attribute poorer balance and higher body fat to fewer club activities and outdoor play with other children.

This, Dr. Ito said, “hampered children’s ability to learn the motor skills necessary to maintain balance during movement.”

While the study was conducted in Japan and reflects the activities of Japanese youth, American children’s balance functions most likely took a hit given the harsh early restrictions on free movement, such as after-school sports.

While the federal government didn’t cancel after-school sports outright, it strongly advised schools to “virtually cancel or keep high-risk sports and extracurricular activities” during the Omicron’s worst wave last winter.

However, with vaccines widely available for all age groups, life has largely returned to normal, including the reinstatement of extracurricular activities that promote physical activity.

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