Studies Say Children Now are Less Active Than Their Parents Were

gymAccording to recent studies, kids these days cannot keep up with their parents. An analysis, using a sample of millions of kids from around the world, finds kids don’t run as fast or as far as their parents could when they were young.

On average, it takes children approximately 90 seconds longer to run a mile than their counterparts did thirty years ago. Heart-related fitness has declined about 5% per decade since 1975 for children ages 9 to 17. The research was featured at The American Heart Association’s conference on Tuesday and is the first definitive study to show that children’s fitness and health has declined worldwide over the past three decades.

In light of the research, experts recommend that children ages six and older get 60 minutes of moderately vigorous athletic activity over the course of a day. Only one-third of American kids that age do now.

It makes sense that we have kids that are less active than they were before. Kids aren’t getting as much opportunity to build up that kind of activity, as many experts and school administrators cite economic reasons for schools not offering physical education classes. Some only rely on recess. The role of schools is paramount on this issue.

The study was led by Grant Tomkinson, an exercise physiologist at the University of South Australia. Researchers analyzed 50 studies on running fitness – a key measure of cardiovascular health and endurance – involving 25 million children ages nine to seventeen in 28 countries from 1964 – 2010. The study measured how far kids could run in five to fifteen minutes and how quickly they ran a certain distance, ranging from half a mile to two miles. Today’s kids are about 15% less fit than their parents were, researchers concluded.

A decline in fitness seems to be leveling off in Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, and moderately in North America. However, it continues to fall in countries like China, and Japan never had much falloff – fitness remained somewhat consistent there. About 20 million of the 25 million children were from Asia. In China, annual fitness test data show the country’s students have become slower and fatter over the past several decades.

Experts and educators blame an obsession with academic testing scores for China’s competitive college admissions as well as a proliferation of indoor entertainment options such gaming and web surfing for the decline. China’s Education Ministry data show that in 2010, male college students ran 1,000 metres 14 to 15 seconds slower on average than male students who ran a decade earlier. Female students slowed by about 12 seconds in running 800 meters.

from Health, Wellness, and Fitness

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