The Richmond Register

January 11, 2014

Kids, your parents were more fit than you

By Dr. Jack Rutherford
Register Columnist

RICHMOND — Don’t look now, but your mom and dad may be gaining on you. It’s true. Kids 30 years ago could run faster and longer than kids today, according to a recent report from the American Heart Association.

The report, which looked at 50 studies involving millions of kids worldwide, found that kids from a generation ago were 15 percent more fit than kids today. What that means is that if you’re a 14 year-old boy, in a hypothetical one-mile race, your dad would beat you by more than 90 seconds. The same is true for girls. The average girl 30 years ago would crush the average girl of today.

The researchers who conducted the study suggest several reasons for the decline in fitness. First, it’s no secret that today’s youth are carrying more weight than those of yesteryear. Extra weight will certainly slow you down. Also, kids today don’t get enough exercise. They’re spending more time on their phones, and sitting in front of video games and computers.

The American Heart Association says kids should get at least 60 minutes of moderately vigorous physical activity each day. And that message is being conveyed by first lady Michelle Obama in her national Let’s Move in School program. The National Football League has gotten involved, too, with their NFL Play 60 program.

However, the sad truth is that schools aren’t following suit. In this age of accountability and tight budgets, physical education classes are actually being cut back, affording students less time to move. Some schools do not even offer recess.

So what can kids do? After all, you don’t want your parents thinking their fitter than you.

Start with what you do for fun. If it’s video games or hanging out with friends, consider adding some props to your fun time. Like a K-2 football or a tennis racket. How about a soccer ball or pair of roller blades? Anything that will get you off the couch and moving.

Then once you’re feeling like you’re in better shape, challenge your mom or dad to a race. But be careful. They might just be gaining on you.