Kids' Fitness on the Decline


That's right, today's kids are less fit than their parents were at that age. Today's kids all across the globe take 90 seconds longer to run a mile than their parents' generation did in 1975 for ages 9-17. Kids vs. Parents

"The new study was led by Grant Tomkinson, an exercise physiologist at the University of South Australia. Researchers analyzed 50 studies on running fitness -- a key measure of cardiovascular health and endurance -- 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 half a mile to two miles. Today's kids are about 15 percent less fit than their parents were, researchers concluded."


This news is not surprising. With the obesity problem, video games, lack of physical education classes, dangerous neighborhoods, and better technology, kids have gotten lazier and more out of shape. A study on this large of a scale brings significant evidence to the table, even if it is only observational. Like all studies, there are many variables to keep in mind, but this study is on a very general, so I am fine with the variables not being taken account of. I am interested to know how just the United States kids compare to older generations. I am also interested to know if location plays a role in this, as well as time spent in front of the TV, eating habits, and hours of sleep each night play a role in the overall fitness difference between generations.

I have always had a feeling this may be true. Just hearing stories about the games my parents always played outside when they were younger, as well as my brother and his friends, I just don't see it with this younger generation. I know my generation was towards the beginning of this lazy era, but my friends and I were still outside all the time playing games. Now whenever I see younger kids whether it be cousins at a family gathering, going to my friend's house and seeing his little brothers, or simply going to the grocery store, they are always sitting around playing video games. They just bring their Gameboy wherever they go and play it all the time. They never use their imagination and make up a game or just run around playing. It is quite disturbing.

In all, I felt this study was very strong because of it's general, broad hypothesis, allowing a observational study to support it quite well. How do you feel about the study? If you have a problem with it, how do you think they could have improved it?

Check out this other Kids' Declining Fitness article.


Zach, I definitely agree that inactivity among youth is a growing problem right now. I think the number one reason for the lack of fitness of today's youth compared to our parent's generation is the increased use of technology. Although the "Digital Age" started right around when our parents would have been born, it was nowhere near how prominent it is now. In a University of Alabama at Birmingham study, it was found that kids ages 14-15 use more than 23 hours worth of technology a day (combined). In the study, kids were surveyed regarding their media use. It found that on average each day teens spent at least six hours texting, three hours watching TV, one and a half hours on Facebook, one hour on Twitter, one and a half hours on other internet sites and one hour playing video games.

Of course, the study only surveyed 55 kids from Birmingham, and also made no connection to inactivity in adolescents. However, with these startling results, it's easy to see that adolescents spend a massive portion of their day using some sort of technology. If this is the case, how are kids finding time to exercise if they are spending more than half their day using technology?

This type of study is definitely a more complicated one to conduct considering there are so many different variables that have to be taken into account and studied. I think it'd be interesting to compare the generational differences of physical activity in the United States versus other countries. I'm sure that when compared, countries that don't have as easy of access to technology as we do would have less of a difference in physical activity between generations as we do. And I agree with you that it's as simple as kids are distracted by exciting new technological toys and devices that keep them inside and on a couch for the most part. Even for myself and a lot of people my age, I notice that free time is now spent inside on a computer or watching TV. The sad part is, it's difficult to stray from this new lifestyle and age of technology since it is so exciting and captivating, especially for younger people. I think that the study was well done, but they could have delved further into the reasons why there is such a huge change in physical activity from the past.

Zach great post. I also agree that the activity of children is declining and I think a lot of this has to do with the fact that technology is constantly growing. When I drive through my neighborhood I never see children running and playing outside. I never hear of kids asking for outside toys, rather I hear them asking for an xbox or a playstation. I think that with the growing technology less and less kids will be going outside and more kids will be sitting inside on the couch playing with video games or staring at a computer screen or a TV. Like mentioned above its so sad to see this changing because these kids should be going outside and playing with their friends out there rather than playing xbox. But because technology is the norm today, I don't think that is ever going to happen again!

I also wrote a blog based somewhat on this topic. Not only is fitness activity declining among the younger generation, but they are also adopting very poor dietary habits. One factor leading to children eating poorly is marketing tactics by fast food corporations that could potentially be deemed unethical. Fast food chains have began to target this young demographic directly, airing most of their commercials during the times/programs that this younger demographic frequents most. Overall, it is sad to see how bad the obesity/fitness problem in this country is getting and hopefully it will gradually improve in the future.

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