Health officials say children around the world are putting their health in jeopardy by not getting enough exercise.
It’s about much more than childhood obesity.
It used to be childhood was probably the most active time of our lives. Well, not so much anymore. For a variety of reasons, from security to lack of facilities to budget cutbacks, kids just aren’t as active as they used to be.
That’s hurting a lot more than their weight.
It could be a soccer practice, or a gym class, or even a walk to and from school. The World Health Organization says kids aged 11-17 need one hour of exercise every day, but most children aren’t getting it.
“Many, many countries are between 80% and 90% of adolescents not meeting the recommendations for physical activity,” said study co-author Dr. Regina Guthold.
The report looked at more than one million students around the world between 2001 and 2016. Boys were more active than girls in all but four of the 146 countries studied. In the United States, 64% of boys didn’t get enough exercise, but that number jumped to 80% for girls.
“The gender difference has increased over the time period we looked at,” Dr. Guthold said.
Doctors say there are plenty of health benefits that come from being active, and not just for your heart and lungs. In kids, they say it improves brain function and even social skills. Of course, if kids aren’t burning calories, they can get obese.
You can probably guess one culprit being blamed for a rise in sedentary lifestyles and childhood obesity.
“Of course, we have had this electronic revolution, and that seems to have changed adolescents’ movement patterns and encourages them to sit more, to be less active,” study co-author Leanne Riley.
The W.H.O. is challenging adults to move more, too, hoping their example will get teens off their screens and into a healthier lifestyle.
Some ways to get your kids more active:
- Be a role model. If you’re active, they’re more likely to be.
- Better yet, play with your child.
- Limit a child’s screen time including TV, phone and computer.
For the full W.H.O. report, click here.