Even Active Kids at Risk of Sedentary Behavior
If you are lucky enough to have an active kid between the ages of nine and twelve then you are one lucky parent. That means your child has a lower risk of developing obesity and diabetes. Unfortunately, a new study suggests that even active kids become more sedentary as they get older. And the phenomenon typically occurs in active kids, around age nine or ten. It’s also more likely to occur to tween girls.
With the focus on ways to get kids moving, few studies have looked at specific features of sedentary behavior. If your child is not active when they are very young, it’s clear that they may never become interested in fitness or physical activity, unless they suddenly connect with a sport. But this new study suggests that even young active children scale back on physical activity when they move into the double digits.
The children participating in the research wore special belts that recorded their activities for a week. They also kept journals with more detailed information. The research was part of an ongoing project, the Gateshead Millennium Study, which examined the health and physical activity of young people born between June 1999 and May 2000 and tracked by researchers at Universities of Strathclyde and Newcastle in the UK.
Of course the winter months can put the kibosh on fitness because kids who typically play outdoors are now mostly staying indoors. A lot of sports activities also wrap up before winter and then re-start in the spring and summer months. So there are a number of months where kids may naturally tend to increase their TV and tech device usage, in lieu of physical activities. When it comes to girls, sweating and body odor risk may be a turn off, or their focus may have shifted to attracting boys, and “beauty efforts” become front and center instead of play time and sports. The start of menstruation can also be a factor in a girl’s dismissal of physical activity.
Boys also become immersed in video-gaming and online activities and dismiss physical activities as part of the rite of passage these days. They may swap out participating in sports for watching sports on TV and playing video games with a sports theme. Seeing a decline in movement in nine to twelve year olds is pretty typical and this research confirms it.
The researchers suggest that gender (female) and weather are both non-modifiable factors. But even in the winter, kids can get up and move around for brief periods of time, walking stairs in their home, doing chores and finding ways to insert activity into indoor time. There is further interest in trying to find ways to intercept what appears to be an inevitable introduction of sedentary time at a certain age in childhood. Clearly, it’s incumbent upon parents, teachers, pediatrician and the public health sector to intercept sedentary habits in young kids, since once these sitting habits entrench; they are likely to persist into the teen years and adulthood.
HealthCorps emphasizes physical activity and fitness as a core component of the curriculum.
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