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 #17 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports With Legendary New York Times Sports Columnist Robert Lipsyte – We chat about Lipsyte’s amazing career and some of the athletes he covered and got to know well, like Muhammad Ali, as well as his relationships with fellow sports journalists like Bob Costas and Howard Cosell.
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Episode #16 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Andrew Maraniss: Outstanding Author of Books That Focus On the Intersection of Sports, History and Social Justice.
Episode #15 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports Psychology with Dr. Tim Rice. We discuss the growth of sports psychology at all levels, the positive impact that a number of high profile athletes have had by opening up, and the importance of everyone involved in sports caring for the whole athlete, mind and body.
Episode #14 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Making Sense of the Injury Pandemic in Major League Baseball – Gary McCoy is a strength, conditioning and high performance coach who has worked with several Major League Baseball organizations.
Episode #13 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Conversation With Long-Time MLB Exec Dan Evans About What’s Right With Baseball and What Could Be Better – Evans is a former general manager for the Los Angeles Dodgers and is currently a consultant for Go the Distance Baseball, which owns the Field of Dreams movie site.
Episode #12 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Fun Chat With Dan Gutman, Author of the Baseball Card Adventure Series for Kids
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.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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.
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