A new study from Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health indicates that physical activity levels among teenagers and children is lower than previously thought. Additionally, young adults after the age of 20 are showing the only increase in activity over their lifespan.
The study found that specific times of the day saw greater activity than others across age groups and gender. According to the study’s author, Vadim Zipunnikov, “for school-age children, the primary window for activity was the afternoon between two and six P.M., so the big question is how do we modify daily schedules, in schools for example, to be more conducive to increasing physical activity?”
He continued to say, “activity levels at the end of adolescence were alarmingly low, and by age 19, they were comparable to 60-year-olds.”
Of the more than 12,000 participants who wore tracking devices for one week straight, 49 percent were male and 51 percent were female, which offered a perfectly blended sample size for researchers. From the results, they determined that males had higher activity levels than females, especially high-intensity activity, but that there was a tipping point. As people started to pass through midlife, the study found that males activity levels dropped significantly compared to females.
One thing that wasn’t too surprising was the fact that 20-somethings were the only group who saw an increase of activity levels, rather than a decline. And their most common workout time was in the morning, indicating the transition from adolescence to adulthood and working a full-time schedule.
Indeed, making that transition from a student to full-time worker involves a new sense of discipline, and it’s easy to let fitness fall by the wayside. In trying to adjust to unfamiliar surroundings and take on new responsibilities, we often forget how to take care of ourselves.
Learning how to balance one’s work life with an adequate dose of physical activity is a difficult task, but a very rewarding one. Don’t wait until you’re 35, 40, or beyond to start being physically active. Start in your 20’s.
The Johns Hopkins study echos similar recommendations to the World Health Organization (WHO). Children should undergo 60 minutes of at least moderate physical activity each day, or more. But of course life gets in the way even for kids, and more than 50 percent of males and 75 percent of female adolescents fail to meet those requirements.
Kids today are busier than ever before, with more clubs, sports teams, and personal statements to write for college applications than ever before. This unprecedented workload has transferred into adulthood, and has taken poor fitness habits with it.