Kids Growing Up, Sadly, Dangerously Inactive

And at the other end, only one in four adolescents is physically active for 60 minutes a day, according to USA Today.

Kids 12-15 would rather (like my son) curl up with Black Ops 2 (I know, I know, I'm a bad mother) than run around outside for hours, the way I did as a kid (and keep in mind, I wasn't in the least athletic!).  But times were different.  There were two other families in the neighborhood the same age as my brother and me and we climbed trees (well, not me) and played kickball on the turn-around at the top of the road and chased each other and the dogs (actually, the dogs chased us) and everything was fun and we could stay out till after dark in the summer, even in the woods that surrounded all our houses, without having to worry about the pedophiles or rapists or even just the dads who liked pretty young girls.

But today kids are more interested in their computers, or hanging out at the mall (with very little of what the mall's for, in my opinion -- walking around), or texting or Facebooking or gossiping on their cells.

The reason this is so critical, experts say, is "because research shows that physical-activity behaviors in childhood often continue into adulthood," writer Nanci Hellmich quotes the study's lead author, Tala Fakhouri, an epidemiologist with the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  

This wasn't exactly true in my day.  I didn't start jogging -- or any kind of exercise -- till I was in my 20's, with a new boyfriend I wanted to impress.  He didn't last but I found I enjoyed it and kept at it off and on for years until I met my exercise-obsessed husband and then began running in earnest (but not with him; the only time we tried, he took off like it was a race, and that was it for me).

"Research consistently shows that physical activity declines as kids get older, Fakhouri says. Another study by Fakhouri and her colleagues found that 70% of kids ages 6 to 11 meet the national physical-activity guidelines.
"This drop comes at a time in kids' lives when they are going through a lot of physical and emotional changes, along with increasing social distractions and academic pressures, says Michael Bergeron, executive director of the National Youth Sports Health & Safety Institute, a partnership between Sanford Health in Sioux Falls, S.D., and the American College of Sports Medicine," Hellmich writes.
 "Some kids don't make the school or travel teams in sports they have played for years," Bergeron tells Hellmich. "That perception of being left behind may prompt a number of kids to step away from a sport. The lack of quality PE in high school and earlier grades, along with less of an emphasis on and limited time and places for safe, free play, further limits opportunities for our youth to experience and learn to enjoy sports and physical activity."
So, what's to become of our kids?  Do I worry that my son will grow up a couch (computer?) potato?  Yes.  He's underweight for his age so obesity is not a problem.  But will he never enjoy the feel of a crisp, clear cold day, running, on his cheeks?  Or the delicious slap of water diving in on a hot summer day?  
Experts say expose your kids to lots of sports.  To my husband's great dismay, our son had absolutely no interest in tennis, his sport.  But he does like to play Fifa online.  Maybe that's a start.


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