A UK study has found the least fit children 20 years ago would be considered some of the fittest today.
The report is featured in a BBC television show about childhood fitness called Super Movers. It says the least fit child in a class of 30 back in 1998 (oh my gosh, was that 20 years ago??) would be one of the five fittest children in a class in 2018.
Even though childhood obesity has been steadily dropping over the past 10 years, fitness levels are also dropping. That means that children aren’t necessarily overeating as much as they once were, but they’re still not exercising enough.
We can thank all that extra screen time for that. Children are much more likely now to spend their leisure time indoors, than running around outside. That means today’s children are the first generation since World War II to be less fit than their parents.
I know I find it incredibly difficult to get my children to go outside. Even when iPads aren’t on offer, they’d much rather play with Lego or play board games than run around outside. When I was their age, I was down at the local BMX track with my friends until it started to get dark most nights.
“If we could time travel to hold a one-mile race so today’s parents and their children were both 10 years old, mums and dads would win it by about 90 seconds,” said Dr Gavin Sandercock, a sports scientist at the University of Essex.
I can’t wait to tell this to my son. He’s super competitive, so it will be immensely satisfying to tell him kid-me would whoop him in a race.
According to Dr Sandercock, about a third of children have clinically low aerobic fitness. But on the bright side, he says, “Just a little exercise can have huge benefits.”
Super Movers is an initiative by the BBC, working with the Premier League (soccer) to encourage children to be more active.