Kids less fit: What do we do?

The latest study on the health of our children isn’t good with fewer than half of children between the ages of 12 and 15 considered physically fit (as measured by cardiorespiratory fitness). This marks a big drop from a decade ago.

I want to get your thoughts on this.

Overall, 42 percent of children between the ages of 12 and 15 had adequate levels of cardiorespiratory fitness in 2012 in a national sampling of 450 kids. The study is being released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The latest figure is down from 52 percent in the 1999-2000 health survey.

Boys fared far better, with 50 percent of them having adequate levels of cardiorespiratory fitness, compared to 34 percent among girls of the same age. The findings did not differ by race or family income. The study also revealed overweight children were more likely to fall short of adequate levels of cardiorespiratory fitness. The results didn’t include a state-by-state background.

Dr. Stephanie Walsh, medical director of child wellness, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta said it should be a wakeup call that our kids need to be outside playing more.

Levels of cardiorespiratory fitness, also known as aerobic capacity or aerobic fitness, were measured through “exercise stress testing.” The youngsters walked at various speeds and inclines on treadmills, and then their heart rates were monitored.

Walsh said kids naturally love to move at a young age. She called for a different mindset.

“Is OK for you to take away recess for kids acting out? That should never be the option for the kid acting out,” she said. “They really need it, and if you take it away, it will hamper the rest of their day.”

Walsh said she’s encouraged by several steps underway to help Georgia kids be healthier. From implementing fitness assessments for students to schools across the state committing to incorporating 30 or more minutes of cardio into their already time pressed day, schools have increased their commitments to get kids moving more. Walsh said these measures may soon start showing up in studies and surveys, but said there’s a bit of a lag time.

What do you see as happening that is helping and making a difference? Is your child’s school finding creative ways to add more exercise into the day with things like Zumba? What have you done with your children and your family to get more exercise?





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