A concerning new study conducted by researchers from the World Health Organization (WHO) warns that adolescents around the world are not getting enough exercise. The study, which was based on data from 1.6 million children in 146 countries, found that more than 80% of children between the ages of 11 and 17 are not meeting the WHO recommendation of engaging in 60 minutes of “moderate to vigorous exercise” every day.
The study also uncovered a significant gap between boys and girls. The researchers found that 85% of girls were not active enough, compared to 78% of boys. The difference is even larger in the United States, where 80% of girls do not get enough physical activity, while 64% of boys do not get enough exercise.
Being physically active as a child can have benefits that last into adulthood, including improved cardiorespiratory health, muscular fitness, and bone strength. The lack of physical activity concerns the authors of the study, especially as the amount of time that young people spend using electronic devices continues to increase.
The study's authors are calling on politicians around the globe to enact policies that promote opportunities for children to be physically active.
“The study highlights that young people have the right to play and should be provided with the opportunities to realize their right to physical and mental health and wellbeing,” the study's co-author, Dr. Fiona Bull, said in a statement. “Strong political will and action can address the fact that four in every five adolescents do not experience the enjoyment and social, physical, and mental health benefits of regular physical activity. Policymakers and stakeholders should be encouraged to act now for the health of this and future young generations.”
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