Physical activity levels among kids begin to reduce at the age of just seven. Astounding? But it is true.
A new study published online in the British Journal of Sports Medicine states that the decline in physical energy doesn’t happen in the teenage years but much before. Also, the decline is more pronounced in girls as compared to boys.
The study is done jointly by the researchers of the Newcastle University and the University of Strathclyde.
Researchers said the prevailing view among policy makers and health professionals had been that physical activity levels during childhood are adequate, but fall sharply during adolescence, and that the decline is significantly greater among girls.
But there is little hard evidence to back this up, and what research has been carried out in this area has mostly been done before the impact of new technologies would have been felt, the experts add.
“Our study questions the concept of the adolescent girl as a priority for research and policy efforts in physical activity. Future research and public health policy should focus on preventing the decline in physical activity which begins in childhood, not adolescence, in both girls and boys,” says co-author of the paper Prof Ashley Adamson, who teaches at the Human Nutrition Research Centre, Newcastle University.
“There needs to be an improved understanding of the determinants of the different physical activity patterns, including an understanding of the importance of biological and environmental influences,” she adds.
In the study Experts tracked the physical activity levels of a representative sample of around 400 children taking part in the Gateshead Millennium Cohort Study from 2006 to 2015.
Physical activity levels were measured when the children were seven, nine, 12 and 15, using a small lightweight portable
The monitor, known as an actigraph, recorded activity for 15 second intervals, and was removed only at night, and for bathing/swimming.
As an additional back-up, the families involved were asked to log when the devices were worn and removed each day.
Overall, the total volume of physical activity fell from the age of seven onwards in both boys and girls during this time, with declines no steeper during adolescence than in earlier childhood.