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Exercise levels decline ‘long before adolescence’ [ sun extra ] 20/03/2017
Exercise levels decline ‘long before adolescence’
Adolescence is thought to be the time when children go off exercise - but a study in The British Journal of Sports Medicine suggests it happens much earlier, around the age of seven. Sitting is replacing physical activity from the time children start school, the research suggests.

Children should get at least an hour of exercise a day. Many of the 400 children enrolled in the study did less than this as they got older.

The experts from Glasgow and Newcastle tracked the activity levels of the children over eight years using monitors worn for a week at a time. The amount of exercise the children did was measured at age seven and then again at age nine, 12 and 15. On average, boys spent 75 minutes a day exercising when they were seven, falling to 51 minutes when they were 15.

The average girl spent 63 minutes per day doing moderate to strenuous physical activity when seven years old, which fell to 41 minutes age 15. Most boys and girls in the study did moderate levels of exercise at seven, which then gradually tailed off. But one in five of the boys bucked the trend and managed to maintain their exercise levels over the eight years.

They were the ones who started off with the highest levels of activity at the age of seven, the researchers said. Although the study cannot prove what causes the drop-off in physical activity, Prof John Reilly, study author from the University of Strathclyde, said “something is going wrong in British children” long before adolescence.

He said it coincided with the peak rate of obesity cases in children and the greatest increases in weight gain - which happen around the age of seven. Different research on the same group of children found that the time lost to exercise was spent sitting instead. Children aged seven spent half their day sitting, and by the age of 15 this had gone up to three-quarters of their day spent sitting.
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