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The physical activity of children has dropped from age 9 to age 15, says a study done by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
The children were evaluated to see whether they reached the daily recommended 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA).
A long-term study was done on over 1,000 children from ethnically and economically diverse backgrounds. An accelerometer (a device that records movement) was worn on the children's belt and monitored their activity for four to seven days.
According to NIH. "The researchers found that, at ages 9 and 11, more than 90 percent of the children met the recommended level of 60 minutes or more of MVPA each day. By age 15, however, only 31 percent met the recommended level on weekdays, and 17 percent met the recommended level on weekends. The researchers estimated that physical activity declined by about 40 minutes per day each year until, by age 15, most failed to reach the daily recommended activity level. On average, boys were more active than girls, spending 18 more minutes per weekday in MVPA than did girls, and 13 more minutes per day in MVPA on weekends. The researchers estimated the age at which girls dropped below the recommended level of 60 minutes of MVPA as 13.1 years for weekdays, compared to boys, who dropped below the recommended level at 14.7 years. For weekends, girls dropped below the recommended level at 12.6 years, and boys at 13.4 years."
Dr. Philip Nader, Emeritus Professor of Pediatrics at the University of California San Diego, suggests that families can help to improve this situation and suggests that parents take their children for more walks, family outings, biking or anything that can get their physical activity up.
Lack of physical activity in children can raise the risk for obesity and also other health problems later on in life. Reading through the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, it recommends that children and adolescents engage in at least 60 minutes of physical activity on most, preferably all, days of the week.
We Can! (Ways to Enhance Children's Activity and Nutrition) is a science-based program created to help children ages 8-13 maintain a healthy weight. They provide tips and other resources for parents to help their families make better and healthier choices.
These findings appear in the July 16 Journal of the American Medical Association.
Source: National Institutes of Health