Across the world, children are approximately 15 percent worse off in terms of cardiovascular fitness than their parents were when they were young, according to research presented last month at a scientific meeting of the American Heart Association.
Researchers analyzed 50 studies on time changes in long-distance running performance of more than 25 million children, ages 9 to 17, from 28 countries. The studies took place between 1964 and 2010.
Beyond the overall decline in cardiovascular fitness among today’s youths, the researchers found that cardiovascular endurance dropped roughly 5 percent every decade. In the United States, youths’ cardiovascular fitness fell an average of 6 percent per decade between 1970 and 2000. It takes children today roughly one minute and 30 seconds longer to run a mile than it did for youths 30 years ago.
“We need to help to inspire children and youth to develop fitness habits that will keep them healthy now and into the future,” said Grant Tomkinson, the study’s lead author and a senior lecturer in the University of South Australia’s School of Health Sciences, in a statement.
A version of this article appeared in the December 04, 2013 edition of Education Week as Physical Fitness