Children run slower today compared to 30 years ago

By Efrosini Costa

Children run slower today compared to 30 years ago
A global fitness study has found today’s children cannot run as fast as their parents did when they were young.

Experts warn their research could suggest that child fitness levels may be in decline.

The study, which spanned over almost five decades, looked at more than 25 million children across 28 countries.

According to the results, today’s child runs a mile, or 1.6 km, a minute and a half slower than their counterparts did more than 30 years ago.

The research, presented at an American Heart Association meeting, highlighted the idea that ‘cardiovascular endurance’ has decreased consistently over the years.

In this case, cardiovascular endurance is gauged by how far a child can run in a set time. If we were to go by the results presented in this study, cardiovascular endurance has dropped on average by 5 per cent every decade.

Researchers say the decline is seen across all children, both boys and girls, in a wide-ranging age group – from 9 to 17.

With some countries faring far worse than others, the study’s authors believe that the rate of obesity is most likely the cause of the results.

“In fact, about 30% to 60% of the declines in endurance running performance can be explained by increases in fat mass,” explained Dr Grant Tomkinson of the University of South Australia’s School of Health Sciences.

The obesity phenomenon, while predominant in many western countries, is also becoming more apparent in some Asian counties like South Korea, China and Hong Kong

Young people need to be encouraged to partake in more vigorous exercise, Dr Tomkinson warned, arguing that if not the consequences for public health could be devastating.

“If a young person is generally unfit now, then they are more likely to develop conditions like heart disease later in life,” argued Dr Tomkinson.

So how much exercise should children and young people partake in to safeguard their fitness and endurance levels?

At least one hour of physical exercise per day, from walking to cycling to and from school and running around the playground.

 Do you agree with the study’s results? Would you say you’re children are slower and less active than what you were as a child?


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