Sedentary As a Teen Likely Sedentary as an Adult
Teens who are lazy and don’t get adequate exercise will likely become lazy, sedentary adults, according to a new study.
Current data reported in the journal Pediatrics suggests that nine out of ten teens do not get the minimum 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous daily physical activity that is recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC). It is recognized that exercise or the lack of it is a predictor of risk of developing childhood and teen obesity as well as metabolic syndrome in adulthood. Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of health conditions including elevated blood pressure, cholesterol level, and blood sugar level that are associated with risk of developing heart disease and diabetes, among other conditions.
Currently childhood obesity has more than doubled in kids and more than quadrupled in teens, putting this young population at risk of sleep issues, diabetes, heart disease, bone and joint problems and poor self-esteem.
The new study asked 561 tenth graders, average age sixteen year old, attending urban, suburban and rural schools (44 in total) to wear activity trackers for a week, to see how much physical activity they normally engaged with. On average in tenth grade the teens clocked in 27 minutes of physical activity daily. In eleventh grade, when they wore the trackers for a week, the students showed on average 29 minutes of physical activity. In twelfth grade they had dipped down to 28 minutes a day. The trackers showed more activity on schooldays, and significant dips of activity on the weekend during all three years.
The teens who went on to a four-year college did show more daily physical activity than those who did not commit to college. Students who lived on college campuses got the most activity versus those who stayed at home.
Limitations to the study were the fact that the subjects were not a representation of a national sample, nor did the study go into implications of the lack of exercise. Still it was clear that kids who did not move in their teen years mostly continued to remain sedentary as they went on to college. Researchers hope that parents will recognize how important it is to get kids moving early in life and accustomed to significant minutes of physical activity daily so it becomes a normal part of their lives. Parents also need to note that on “their watch,” weekends, activity went down. Weekend need to be filled with fun physical activity and not a time for kids to sit for hours occupied with tech devices and TV time.