Sedentary Teens Become Tomorrow’s Sedentary Adults

It may not surprise you to learn that Americans are getting more sedentary and now it seems younger and younger people are less active than their parents or grandparents. This trend could be blamed by the ever-presence of hand-held devices, but I think it’s a long time coming frankly…before those electronic devices like smart phones and tablets, we talked computers being the culprit and before that it was video games to blame and before that it was TV’s fault as to why activity levels were taking a nose dive. But research does not lie and it’s quite shocking as to what it revealed about our children’s activity levels in this country.

Researchers found that most teens today are as sedentary as the average 60-year-old. Findings were based on data from more than 12,500 people of various ages who wore activity trackers for seven consecutive days as part of national health surveys conducted between 2003 and 2006. What they found was that children and teens were less physically active than previously thought.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity a day for children aged 5 to 17. However, in the study more than 25 percent of boys and 50 percent of girls aged 6 to 11 and more than 50 percent of males and 75 percent of girls aged 12 to 19 did not reach the WHO guidelines.

The most shocking finding was that not only at the end of adolescence the levels were “alarmingly low” and by the age of 19, they were comparable to 60-year-olds!

The goal of the findings should be to now identify opportunities for increasing physical activity among youngsters. Inactivity should be minimal and even low-intensity activity should be a consideration, in addition to moderate-to-vigorous activity as part of their daily lives.

My opinion on this is simple: unplug the TV, computer, phone and tablet so-to-speak. Have them “earn time” by doing more activity. Encourage outdoor play, especially during the summertime when the weather is prime for it. And, parents, lead by example. If you are planted square in front of your computer or TV for hours on end and never physically active, your children will follow suit. It’s learned behavior. Therefore, a sedentary teen will essentially become tomorrow’s sedentary adult and so on and so forth. A family that’s active together will develop and establish a lifetime of healthy habits.

The study was published in the journal Preventive Medicine.