Physical activity among children and teens is lower than previously thought, adults after the age of 20 show the only increases in activity over the lifespan, And the study found, starting at age 35, activity levels declined through midlife and older adulthood.
The study also identified when activity was highest and lowest in a day, across age groups and between males and females. contributing to the growing obesity epidemic, particularly among children and teens.
“Activity levels at the end of adolescence were alarmingly low, and by age 19, they were comparable to 60-year-olds,” For school-age children, how do we modify daily schedules, in schools for example, to be more conducive to increasing physical activity?”
The researchers broke down findings into five age groups: children (ages six to 11); adolescents (ages 12 to 19); young adults (ages 20 to 29); adults at midlife (ages 31 to 59); and older adults (age 60 through age 84). Forty-nine percent were male, the rest female.
increase in activity levels, was spread out throughout the day, with an increase in physical activity in the early morning, compared to younger adolescents. The increase may be related to starting full-time work and other life transitions.
For all age groups, males generally had higher activity levels than females, particularly high-intensity activity, but after midlife, these levels dropped off sharply compared to females. Among adults 60 years and older, males were more sedentary and had lower light-intensity activity levels than females.
The study confirmed that recommended guidelines were not being met. For instance, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity a day for children ages five to 17 years. The study found that more than 25 percent of boys and 50 percent of girls ages six to 11 and more than 50 percent of male and 75 percent of female adolescents ages 12 to 19 had not met the WHO recommendation.
While WHO formulates its recommendations in terms of moderate-to-vigorous activity, the researchers say there is a growing consensus for the benefits of reducing sedentary behavior and increasing even low-intensity levels of physical activity.
“The goal of campaigns aimed at increasing physical activity has focused on increasing higher-intensity exercise,” increasing lower-intensity physical activity and reducing inactivity.”