A recent study tracked kids (literally!) to see how much exercise they get each day, in various locations. Findings revealed that the average kid in the study doesn’t get enough exercise. Anywhere. Not in school, not at home and certainly not outside. Surprisingly, even though adolescents spend less than 5 percent of their time at school engaging in physical activity, according to the new study, this time accounts for almost half of their overall exercise. Yikes.
The study, “Locations of Physical Activity as Assessed by GPS in Young Adolescents,” in the January 2016 issue of Pediatrics looked at data from 549 healthy adolescents from ages 12-16 in Baltimore, Md., and Seattle, Wash. All of them wore accelerometer and global positioning system trackers during waking hours at home, at school, in their neighborhoods and other locations.
Here’s what they found:
- The adolescents averaged 39 minutes per day of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity across all locations. This placed them among the estimated 92 percent of American kids who don’t get the 60 minutes of daily exercise recommended for healthy development and obesity prevention.
- More than 42 percent of the children’s overall physical activity took place at school, but it represented just 4.8 percent of their time there. Children were much more likely to be active when they were outdoors near their homes or schools, yet they didn’t spend a lot of time outside in their neighborhood.
And here’s what we should do:
- Advocate for safer and more pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods that make playing outside and walking to school easier.
- Talk to your kids’ school to implement a comprehensive school physical activity program that emphasizes physical education, recess, classroom exercise and active before- and after-school programs.
- Set limits on screen time at home so that kids get moving.
- Send kids outside! The more kids are outside with friends, the more active they will be.