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A new study has shown that kids who are allowed to visit their friends and go shopping on their own appear to be more active.

Researchers from the University of Bristol tracked the movements of 1,307 children using GPS technology. They also asked the pupils, aged ten and 11 from 23 schools to complete a questionnaire about how much freedom they were given to travel outside the home unsupervised by their parents.

Their responses ranged from never, sometimes, often to always allowed to go to local shops, a big shopping centre, park or playground, sports centre, swimming pool, library, school, cinema, friend's house, amusement arcade, bus stop or train station.

The study results showed that those boys and girls who were given greater freedoms were much more active on weekdays than those closely watched by adults.

Senior investigator on the study, Dr Ashley Cooper, said that this was the first study to show that freedom to move around unsupervised in the local and wider neighborhood is directly related to how physically active children get.

These findings suggest that giving children more independence to move outside is related to greater levels of physical activity, which is crucial for health. However, restricting independence to a certain degree is also very good for safety reasons.

More work is needed to be done to discover how to get the right balance.

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Perhaps parents should take their children with them when they work out at the fitness center. That way children will learn the benefits of physical exercise early on.
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