By Ken Reed
Research coming out the American Heart Association conference on Tuesday revealed a depressing picture: Worldwide, kids are slower and less fit today than their parents were when they were young.
“It makes sense,” said Dr. Stephen Daniels, a University of Colorado pediatrician. “We have kids that are less active than before.”
Researchers examined 50 studies involving cardiovascular fitness and endurance. The studies were done on children ages 9 to 17 in 28 countries from 1964 to 2010. Overall, the researchers concluded that today’s kids are 15 percent less fit than their parents were. The negative changes were very similar for boys and girls.
“We are currently facing the most sedentary generation of children in our history,” said Sam Kass, head of first lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move program.
To put the findings in perspective, it takes today’s children 90 seconds longer to run a mile than their parents did 30 years ago. Overall, heart-related fitness has dropped about five percent per decade since 1975 for children ages 9 to 17.
There are many reasons for the findings, but they all revolve around the increasingly sedentary lifestyles our children lead today. Kids spend too much time on the couch with smartphones, iPads, computers, video games and television shows. Bicycles for kids are becoming a thing of the past (How many bike racks do you see at schools today?). Due to safety concerns, many parents don’t let their kids play outside, unless they’re confined to ever-shrinking backyards.
However, one of the major reasons for the poor physical state of our children is the decline in physical education. Once part of a daily school routine, many kids don’t have physical education class at all anymore in our school systems. Many educators point to the academic pressures they face from the No Child Left Behind law and the annual academic assessment exams prevalent in virtually every state. Nevertheless, research consistently shows that fit kids perform better academically, have fewer behavioral problems, and are healthier overall. Thirty minutes of cardiovascular exercise will improve test performance more than an extra half-hour of seat time in a math or science class.
These research findings cry out for daily, cardiovascular-based, physical education for all our children in grades K-12. If we avoid that path, our nation’s healthcare costs for obesity-related diseases such as diabetes will skyrocket in the coming decades.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #26 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Fix Youth Sports? – John O’Sullivan is Founder and CEO of Changing the Game Project and author of “Changing the Game: The Parents Guide to Raising Happy, High Performing Athletes and Giving Youth Sports Back to Our Kids.” We discuss overzealous adults in youth sports, the dangers of sport specialization, youth sports entrepreneurs and the profit-at-all-costs mindset, and the growing socio-economic gap in youth sports.
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Episode #25 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Physical Education Should Be a Critical Component of K-12 School Design – Michael Horn is co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation.
Episode #24 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Mental Health and Athletes: Ending the Stigma – Nathan Braaten and Taylor Ricci are the founders of Dam Worth It, a non-profit created to end the stigma around mental health at colleges and universities through sport, storytelling, and community creation.
Episode #23 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Olympian Benita Fitzgerald Mosley Talks Title IX, Youth Sports and the Olympics.
Episode #22 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Rethinking Sports Fandom with Author Craig Calcaterra – We discuss Calcaterra’s new book “Rethinking Fandom: How to Beat the Sports-Industrial Complex at Its Own Game” and explore new ways to be a fan.
Episode #21 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Chatting About a Broken Game With Baseball Writer Pedro Moura – Moura is a national baseball writer for Fox Sports. We discuss how and why the game of baseball is broken, what factors caused it, and offer a few thoughts on how to “fix” a great game.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- League of Fans Sports Policy Director Ken Reed quoted in Washington Post column titled "What happened to P.E.? It’s losing ground in our push for academic improvement," by Jay Mathews
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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