Probably if you were to challenge your children to a foot race right now they would win and leave you eating their dust while you rubbed your sore knees. Your children should certainly be faster than you these days, as they don’t have years’ worth of wear and tear to contend with.
However, according to a recent study there probably was a time when you would have beaten them without too much trouble. According to a published study, carried out at the University of South Australia, children today can’t run as fast or as far as their parents could at the same age. Specifically, the study compared today’s children with ‘typical children’ from 1975 by comparing the performance of children across 50 different studies between now and 1964. That covers over 25 million children between the ages of 9-17 across 28 countries. The analysis found that they were lacking in terms of their physical ability and 15% less aerobically fit than their 70s counterparts. The findings have not yet been peer reviewed and as such should be considered as preliminary – however it is very likely that this paints an accurate picture of children’s health and how it has changed over the last several decades. According to Grant Tomkinson who led the study, this problem is universal and is the same across the globe. However it is also particularly bad in the US, where children’s heart endurance was seen to fall by roughly 6% every decade from 1970 to 2000.
Your Children May be At Risk
In case you thought this wouldn’t be a problem for your children, studies have demonstrated that lesser fitness in youth is likely to lead to the same in adulthood. That means that when our children are our age, they are also likely to be less fit and healthy and to get less exercise on a less regular basis. In turn, this poor heart health will put next generation’s adults at greater risk of diabetes, stroke, heart disease, obesity, depression, joint complaints and many other problems that could reduce the quality and length of their lives.
Whatever Happened to Exercise?
So what is causing this decline in physical ability, and what can we do to try and fight the tide? ‘We all live in an environment that’s toxic for exercise, and our children are paying the price,’ said Tom Kinson of the results. Sam Kass who is executive director at Michelle Obama’s ‘Let’s Move’ movement concurs with Tom Kinson’s analysis. ‘It’s clear over the last four decades we’ve been in a cycle of inactivity, and that’s leading to some devastating health outcomes’. Generally then, it is assumed that this decline is at least mostly due a decrease in physical activity which has been brought about by changes in our lifestyle and the introduction of modern technology. The old argument that children of today would rather stay in and play on their Xboxes is something of a cliche but it is also an accurate one according to most analysts.
The solution then is for parents to start making more effort to encourage their children to head outside and engage in some physical exercise rather than sitting in front of computer games or Facebook. The Key to this according to Tom Kinson, is that the exercise must be fun while still being at least moderately strenuous. ‘You want exercise to be fun,’ he says, ‘but there needs to be some huff and puff in there as well. It needs to make them somewhat tired’. An example of this could be playing sports for instance with friends – encouraging your children to find a sport they enjoy and join a team can be very beneficial for them both mentally and physically for instance; while getting them a trampoline or bouncy castle for their birthday parties is an almost guaranteed way to wear them out.
And if your children seem determined to stick to their games consoles, then you could try to at least encourage them to use more of the motion sensor based games that rely on the Wii controllers or the Xbox’s Kinect system. Either way, if you’re a parent then responsibility for the health and fitness of the next generation falls squarely on your shoulders. Make sure that your children are getting the exercise they need!
About the Author: Yorrick, is a freelancer by profession. He is currently writing for My Party Jumpers, providers of affordable & safe rentals of inflatable bounce houses and jumpers. He is also a cooking enthusiast and often cooks for his family on weekends.
Tell us in a few words what you like about KidsGoals.com and what motivated you to contribute this article:
I think the thing that motivated me the most about your blog was the fact that you believe in forging the identity of the child at a very young age. Sadly, most parents don’t realize this fact and go on an over-protection drive that robs their kids of the much needed exposure. This article is related to that problem and is my take on the recent findings about how the new generation of kids aren’t getting enough exercise which in turn is causing major health issues during their growing up years.