Google+ Running in Cork, Ireland: Fitness of children declining worldwide

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Fitness of children declining worldwide

In a recent study present at the American Heart Association, researchers showed that a decline in running fitness in children may indicate worse health in adulthood.

“If a young person is generally unfit now, then they are more likely to develop conditions like heart disease later in life. The most important type of fitness for good health is cardiovascular fitness, which is the ability to exercise vigorously for a long time, like running multiple laps around an oval track,” said Grant Tomkinson, Ph.D., lead author of the study and senior lecturer in the University of South Australia’s School of Health Sciences.

Researchers analysed 50 studies on running fitness between 1964 and 2010 that involved more than 25 million children from ages 9 to 17 in 28 countries. They gauged cardiovascular endurance by how far children could run in a set time or how long it took to run a set distance. Tests typically lasted five to 15 minutes or covered a half-mile to two miles.

Researchers found that cardiovascular endurance declined significantly within the 46 years. Average changes were similar between boys and girls, younger and older children although they varied country to country.

The study is the first to show that children's cardiovascular fitness has declined around the globe since about 1975:
a) In the United States, childrens cardiovascular endurance fell an average 6 percent per decade between 1970 and 2000.
b) Across countries, endurance has declined by about 5 percent every decade.
c) Children today are roughly 15 percent less fit from a cardiovascular standpoint than their parents were as youngsters.
d) In a mile run, children today are about a minute and a half slower than their peers 30 years ago.
e) Declines in cardiovascular endurance performance are probably caused by social, behavioral, physical, psychosocial and physiological factors.

Country-by-country fitness findings are mirrored in measurements of overweight/obesity and body fat suggesting one factor may cause the other. “In fact, about 30 percent to 60 percent of the declines in endurance running performance can be explained by increases in fat mass,” Tomkinson said.

Children should engage in at least 60 minutes of daily activities that use the body’s big muscles, such as running, swimming or cycling, he said.

“We need to help to inspire children and youth to develop fitness habits that will keep them healthy now and into the future,” Tomkinson said. “They need to choose a range of physical activities they like or think they might like to try, and they need to get moving.”

1 comment:

Gearóid said...

This is no surprise. During the summer holidays I and my friends would play soccer hurling or tip rugby for about seven hours a day. We used to cycle or walk to school mostly, we used to cycle from the wilton area into town from the age of ten. We were skin and bone at the end of the summer holidays.
Nowadays (I live opposite Coláiste an Spioraid Naoimh in Bishopstown) there's a traffic jam at the end of school hours every day. Nearly all of those students could walk home and would be the better of it.