Research released at the American Heart Association's recent annual conference indicates children's fitness levels may be in decline. Data from more than 25 million children, in 28 different countries, from 1964 to 2010 have painted an alarming picture for nutritional experts and doctors examining children's nutritional health.
The studies compared the distance children could run in five to 15 minutes and how fast children ran the distance of a mile.
On average it takes children 90 seconds longer to run a mile than it did their peers 30 years ago. The other upsetting revelation revealed cardiovascular endurance for American children ages 9 to 17 has declined 5 percent per decade since 1975.
Children in western countries are predominately worse off than their historical counterparts, although some areas of Asia have also seen a decline.
Unsurprisingly, the issue is closely linked to obesity and the lack of exercise children obtain. Lead researcher Dr. Grant Tomkinson of the University of South Australia's School of Health Sciences told the BBC "about 30 percent to 60 percent of the declines in endurance running performance can be explained by increases in fat mass."
Doctors and health experts recommend children and young adults get at least an hour of physical activity a day to combat this dangerous health obstacle. However, only certain types of exercise will facilitate the changes the body needs to achieve fitness.
"The type of exercise is really important," Michael Gwitz of the American Heart Association told BBC. The type of activity done, be it walking, cycling or running on the playground needs to be something that "makes you sweat" and is "sustained and dynamic."
The problem is children are being denied their natural inclinations for vigorous activity, according to researchers.
"Kids aren't getting enough opportunities to build up that activity over the course of the day," Dr. Stephen Daniels, a pediatrician, said to AP News. "Many schools, for economic reasons, don't have any physical education at all. Some rely on recess to provide exercise."