New research published in The Journal of the American Medical Association shows that, as children get older, their energy starts to disappear. And, as they hit the teen years, even the most active children experience dramatic declines in physical activity.
This study was one of the largest and longest ever undertaken on the subject, followed about 1,000 children from around the United States. Unlike many previous studies, it used monitoring devices – accelerometers – to track the activity carefully rather than relying on parents’ reports.
For nine-year-olds, the devices recorded about three hours a day of moderate to vigorous activity. But activity level dropped dramatically when kids became teens. By age 15, they were only moving on average 49 minutes daily and 35 minutes on weekends, said the study.
“When you are younger, it’s much easier to go out and do things spontaneously,” said James A. Griffin, deputy chief of the Child Development and Behavior Branch at the US National Institutes of Health’s Center for Research for Mothers and Children. “But when you get older, kids tend to play a video game or watch television with their friends. Parents need to be aware to help them balance that out a little better.”