Children today are less fit than their parents were: global study
Today's kids can't keep up with their parents. An analysis of studies on millions of children around the world found that they don't run as fast or as far as their parents did when they were young. On average, it takes children 90 seconds longer to run a mile (1.6 kilometers) than their counterparts did 30 years ago. Heart-related fitness has fallen 5 percent per decade since 1975 for children ages 9 to 17.
The American Heart Association said it's the first study to show that children's fitness has declined worldwide over the last three decades. "It makes sense. We have kids that are less active than before," said Dr. Stephen Daniels, a spokesman for the heart association.
Health experts recommend that children 6 and older get 60 minutes of moderately vigorous activity over the course of a day. Only one-third of American kids do now. "Many schools, for economic reasons, don't have any physical education at all," Daniels said.
The new analysis was led by Grant Tomkinson, an exercise expert at the University of South Australia. Researchers looked at 50 studies on running fitness involving 25 million children ages 9 to 17 in 28 countries from 1964 to 2010. The studies measured how far children could run in 5 to 15 minutes and how quickly they ran a certain distance, ranging from 800 meters to 3.2 kilometers. Today's kids are about 15 percent less fit than their parents were, researchers concluded. "The changes are very similar for boys and girls and also for various ages," but differed by region, Tomkinson said.