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90% of U.S. teens aren't getting enough exercise


Teens

(NaturalNews) Nine out of ten U.S. high school students aren't getting enough exercise, and their habits tend to persist beyond graduation, according to a recent study.

Colorado State University assistant professor Kaigang Li employed a novel approach in researching the fitness and exercise habits of kids in their late teens.

Rather than relying on surveys and questionnaires to obtain data, Li asked the participants in the study to wear accelerometers – devices that measure the amount and intensity of physical activity – so that he could get an accurate picture of how much daily exercise the teens were actually getting.

The four-year study involved around 600 students, aged 16 to 19, from 44 different schools across the U.S. The teens were monitored from 10th grade through the first year after graduation – a period of "great transition and development," according to Li.

Based on the Centers for Disease Control's (CDC) recommended daily amount of exercise for kids to stay healthy – a minimum of 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity – Li and his colleagues found that 91 percent of the 16- to 19-year-old participants did not meet the requirements.

Kids exercise less and less as they get older

Previous studies have shown that the amount of daily physical activity tends to decline from childhood to adolescence, and then into late teenage years and beyond. For example, only 0.04 percent of 9-year-olds engage in less than an hour of daily exercise, but the figure increases to 70 percent for 15-year-olds. And beyond the age of 15 kids become even more sedentary – and they tend to stay that way.

From CSU's Source:

"[Li] found that, after high school, physical activity levels continued to decline or remained low, regardless of whether the teens went on to college. Those who did attend college were slightly more active than those who didn't, and of the college students, those living off campus exercised less than on-campus residents."

Kids who don't get enough exercise often face serious health issues later in life, including obesity, heart disease and diabetes.

"It's a huge problem," said Li. "Parents and schools need to be doing more to help kids make exercise part of their daily life."

Is there a solution?

In terms of addressing the problem, Li had a different set of recommendations for college students and those who do not attend college.

For college students, simply building more recreation centers is not the solution:

"Colleges should expand opportunities for physical activity — not just with facilities, but with programs and campaigns to motivate students, because students aren't using those facilities enough. Something needs to be done to push them."

For those who don't attend college, Li believes that "governmental agencies and communities" should do more to assess their needs and provide them with more opportunities, including more easily accessible facilities. "No one should be left behind," he said.

Part of the reason kids are not getting enough exercise may be due to the fact that only 29 percent of U.S. high schools have daily gym classes.

Other factors may include the increased amount of homework as children reach middle school, and the fact that modern kids tend to spend too much time on their cell phones. And, of course, many teens are addicted to a diet of unhealthy, poisonous junk foods.

Whatever the reasons, our kids are becoming fatter and less healthy, and the resulting cost to society is great – the yearly healthcare cost of obesity-related illness in the U.S. is estimated to be nearly $200 billion.

Governmental agencies, community leaders and schools can only do so much; the real responsibility lies at home. Raising healthy kids is largely the responsibility of parents, but more and more, it seems, parents are too busy themselves simply trying to make ends meet to set a good example for their children and encourage them to adopt healthy, active lifestyles.

There are no easy solutions, but everyone seems to agree that something must be done or else we will simply become a nation full of couch potatoes.

Sources:

Consumer.HealthDay.com

Source.ColoState.edu

Pediatrics.AAPPublications.org

HealthyCommunitiesHealthyFuture.org

Science.NaturalNews.com

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