Australian researchers said cardio-respiratory capacity in children has dropped by 25 per cent in 20 years.
These are the findings of a new study published in the journal ‘Psychology of Sport and Exercise’.
There are multiple reasons for this, from the social environment and the decreasing number of play areas to a more academic approach towards teaching physical education and the spread of new technologies.
But at what age do children lose the desire to exercise?
Researchers from the University of Geneva (UNIGE), Switzerland, followed 1,200 Geneva pupils, aged eight to 12, for two years. The team found out that from the age of nine, the positive reasons for exercising — it’s fun and good for your health — begin to be replaced by more displaced incentives: to get a good mark or improve your image with others. These results, which are published in the journal Psychology of Sport and Exercise, call for a more detailed analysis of how PE is taught in schools to counter physical inactivity leading to a sedentary lifestyle from an early age.
Society today is characterised by an increasingly sedentary way of life and a decline in physical activity, which is reflected in the growing number of overweight children (16 per cent of children aged six to 12 in Switzerland).
In an earlier study, UNIGE researchers noted that the recommendations issued by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for the amount of exercise undertaken by school-age children were not being met, namely: children should be active for at least 50 per cent of the time devoted to physical education lessons in primary school.
In reality, they move on average only 38 per cent of the time. And as children grow older, the percentage drops.
The UNIGE researchers tracked 1,200 Geneva pupils aged eight to 12 for two years.. “Our results showed for the first time that there is a sharp drop in positive motivations for physical activity (with good motivational qualities), such as pleasure or health, over a child’s time at primary school from age nine onwards,” explains Julien Chanal, a researcher in the Psychology Section of UNIGE’s Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences (FPSE).
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