It’s not uncommon for a wild child to turn into a couch potato teen, but a new study finds the slowdown in activity happens long before the onset of puberty.
The British Journal of Sports Medicine reports that sedentary behaviors start to develop at the ripe old age of 7. The researchers studied 400 kids with activity trackers and learned that every single one experienced a drop-off in activity well before they reached their first decade.
James Tipton, M.D., pediatrician with Norton Children’s Medical Associates – Dixie, isn’t surprised with the findings.
“I don’t think the problem is lethargy per se, but it is in the culture of the screen,” Dr. Tipton said. “Kids are developing sedentary lifestyles earlier because they are watching more TV, playing video games, using tablets, etc.”
He said it’s not a trend to be proud of.
“This sedentary lifestyle, especially when started early, sets up poor habits for the future and greatly increases the risk of obesity and all that comes with it,” Dr. Tipton said.
What can parents do help ward off this decline?
“Limit all kids to under two hours of screen time a day and make sure they get at least 60 minutes of physical activity,” said Jenita Lyons, health and wellness manager with Norton Children’s Prevention & Wellness. “The 60 minutes of exercise can be broken up into six 10-minute blocks or two 30-minute segments — whatever works with their schedule.”
If your child needs some convincing to get up off the couch, Lyons suggests a reward system.
“Use incentives and set goals,” she said. “Give a reward when a child is active for three days in a row. Try to use nonfood incentives like fun games, new school supplies, extra play time, play dates or library visits.”
If you want to get the whole family involved, here are some great tips.