Kids Today Less Fit Than Their Parents, Study Shows

According to the latest reports from the American Heart Association, today’s children cannot match what their parents did in exercises several decades ago, according to the New York Daily News.

Children around the world do no run as fast as their parents when they were young. Compared with their counterparts 30 years ago, it takes children 90 seconds longer to run a mile. For children ages 9 to 17, Heart-related fitness has declined 5 percent per decade since 1975.

“It makes sense. We have kids that are less active than before,” said Dr. Stephen Daniels, a University of Colorado pediatrician and spokesman for the heart association.

Children aged 6 and over should get 60 minutes of moderately vigorous activity accumulated over a day, as recommended by health experts. Sadly, only a third of American children do this.

“Kids aren’t getting enough opportunities to build up that activity over the course of the day,” Stephen said. “Many schools, for economic reasons, don’t have any physical education at all. Some rely on recess to provide exercise.”

At a conference on Monday, a White House chef and head of first lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move program, Sam Kass, stressed the role of schools in his speech.

“We are currently facing the most sedentary generation of children in our history,” Sam said.

In a study led by Grant Tomkinson, an exercise physiologist at the University of Australia, researchers analyzed 50 studies on running fitness. They studies included  25 million children ages 9 to 17 in 28 countries from 1964 to 2010. They measured how far the participants could run in 5 to 15 minutes. It also tested how quickly they could run in distances ranging from a half a mile to 2 miles. It was found that kids today are around 15 % less fit than their parents were.

“The changes are very similar for boys and girls and also for various ages but differed by geographic region,” Grant said.

The decline in fitness is coming to a plateau in Europe, Australia and New Zealand and even North America within the last few years. Fitness continues to decline in China, and Japan’s fitness level has remained consistent over the years. Of the 25 million children in the research, 20 million were from Asia.

Obesity is likely to play a role, as it makes it harder to run or do any aerobic exercise according to Tomkinson and Grant. They also said that excessive amounts of  television and playing video games contribute to this issue, as well as unsafe neighborhoods with not enough options for outdoor play.

“Fitness is pretty poor in adults and even worse in young people especially in the United States and eastern Europe,” said Dr. Ulf Ekelund of the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences in Oslo, Norway.

80% of young people globally may not be getting enough exercise as World Health Organization numbers suggest.

11 24, 2013
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