Healthstyle Blog

Today’s kids are less fit than their parents

Our world may be moving faster, but our kids are moving slower. According to a meta-analysis of fitness studies, children around the globe can’t run as fast or as far as their parents did when they were the same age. According to the American Heart Association, this research is the first to prove the worldwide decline in childhood fitness that has occurred over the last three decades. On average, it takes children 90 seconds longer to run one mile today than it took those of the same age 30 years ago. In fact, cardiovascular fitness has declined 5 percent every ten years since 1975 for kids between the ages of nine and 17.

Experts attribute much of this decline to physical inactivity. While it’s generally recommended that children over the age of six get 60 minutes of moderately vigorous activity every day, only about 33 percent of American children hit that mark. The meta-analysis, led by an Australian exercise physiologist, looked at the results of 50 separate studies on running fitness involving 25 million children in 28 countries from 1962 to 2010. Each study measured the distance the children could run in five to 15 minutes as well as how quickly they could complete a half mile to two mile course.

Researchers concluded that today’s kids are 15 percent less fit than their parents were at their age. While the decline was similar for boys and girls as well as various age groups, some geographic regions fared better than others did. The decline in fitness has leveled off over the past few years in Australia, Europe, New Zealand and North America. Children in China continued to lose physical fitness each year, while those in Japan had seen little decline in fitness over the years covered by the studies. Adults with good cardiovascular fitness are less likely to experience heart attacks or strokes.

Kids who develop cardiovascular fitness during childhood are more likely to maintain that fitness as adults. Conversely, those who lead sedentary lives and lack cardiovascular fitness as children are more likely to continue those trends as they age.

If you’re a parent, how can you get your children to move more? Consider the following suggestions:

Limit screen time. Thanks to plentiful technology, most children spend five to seven hours a day in front of a screen. When a child is watching television, surfing the Internet or playing video games, he only burns 30 to 50 calories an hour. When kids play outside or participate in sports, they burn 400 to 500 calories an hour. If you limit the amount of time your children are allowed to spend in front of a screen, you’ll encourage them to do something more active.

Encourage breaks. Whether kids are reading a book or doing their homework, they need to get up regularly and move around. Every little bit of activity counts towards the recommended 60 minutes of moderately vigorous exercise a day. Encourage your children to get their heart rate up at least every hour. They can do jumping jacks, shoot hoops, take a walk around the block, dance to music or play a fitness-related video game. Set a timer to remind them if necessary.

At, we believe in the power of physical activity to transform bodies and lives for both children and adults. Go out there and move this weekend with the family and help to get our kids moving.

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Have a healthy holiday season.








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