Ten-year-olds today are not doing enough exercise and are weaker than children 16 years ago as a result, new research suggests.
The study, which tested the muscle strength and muscle endurance of 10-year-olds in Chelmsford, Essex over a period of 16 years, found children’s strength has fallen significantly over that period and at a rapid pace.
Researchers from the University of Essex used data from Chelmsford Children’s Fitness and Activity Survey, which measured the height, weight, and strength 300 10-year-olds in 1998, 2008 and 2014.
The study, published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, found the 10-year-old children were heavier and taller in 2014 than the 10-year-olds monitored in 2008 and 1998, though this did not affect their BMI.
But while the scientists expected to find the children to be stronger and more powerful in the later test groups, they found the opposite.
The study tested children doing standing broad-jumps, sit-ups and bent-arm hangs, as well as the strength of their hand grips, and recorded a 20% decrease in the children’s muscle strength and a 30% drop in muscle endurance over the 16 year period.
Dr Gavin Sandercock, who led the study, said: “Despite being bigger, we are finding 10-year-olds are getting weaker.” While continued declines in strength are a worry, “even more concerning is that the rate of these declines is accelerating.”
“The findings speak for themselves,” he said. “Year-on-year we keep finding lower and lower fitness levels suggesting children are doing less and less exercise.
“Inactive lifestyles are a health risk but physical fitness is the single best measure of health in childhood, adolescence and on into adulthood. Poor fitness and inactivity leads to multiple health problems in their adult life.”