Concerned about the lack of physical activity in young children, researchers at the University of Essex (United Kingdom) conducted a study to quantify the strength and physical condition of 1,200 children aged 10, between 1998 and 2014.
Led by Dr Gavin Sandercock, the team studied the physical abilities of a group of 315 children aged 10 in 2008 and compared them with a group of 309 children of the same age in 1998 and a group of around 300 children. in 2014.
Results: the number of sit-ups a 10-year-old can do in 30 seconds has decreased by 27.1% between 1998 and 2008. While boys were able to perform just over 26 sit-ups on average in 30 seconds in 1998, this figure fell to 19.2 in 2008 and to just 15.4 in 2014. For girls, this figure fell from 23.9 to 10.7 between 1998 and 2014. A significant decrease was also observed for boys and girls in the grip strength of the arm and hand.
According to Dr Gavin Sandercock, there was thus a 20% decrease in muscle strength and a 30% decrease in muscle endurance 10-year-olds in the past 16 years.
Even so, the study indicates that body mass index (BMI) has remained relatively stable during the study period, because if the children weigh a little more, they are also a little taller. Proof that BMI is not such a good indicator of physical health.
If the researchers obviously point the finger at the increased sedentary lifestyle among children, who spend less and less time outdoors and more and more time in front of screens, they believe that children’s tolerance to discomfort is also in play. They are not really used to lifting their own weight, to climb trees, to take risks and to surpass themselves physically.
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