Health 1
19-Year-Olds are Just as Sedentary as 60-Year-Olds

Once again, researchers are informing us that we’re sitting way too much — not just adults but kids and teens too. In fact, 19-year-olds are spending just as much time sitting as their 60-year-old counterparts.

In order to measure the physical activity levels among various age groups, researchers from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health compiled data from 12,529 participants who were instructed to wear tracking devices for seven straight days, removing them for only bathing and sleeping.

Their findings, which were published in the journal Preventive Medicine, revealed the following:

  • 20-somethings were the only age group that saw an increase in activity levels spread out throughout the day, with an increase in physical activity in the early morning, compared to younger adolescents.
  • For all age groups, males generally had higher activity levels than females, particularly high-intensity activity.
  • After midlife, however, male activity levels “dropped off sharply” compared to females.
  • After age 60, women were less sedentary and had higher amounts of light-activity levels than men.

These results come amid heightened concern that exercise deficits are contributing to the growing obesity epidemic, particularly among the younger population.

“Activity levels at the end of adolescence were alarmingly low, and by age 19, they were comparable to 60-year-olds,” stated the study’s senior author, Vadim Zipunnikov, in a press release.

“There’s a lot of different outlets from an entertainment perspective, so I think it’s easy to peg [this issue] on the cellphones and tablets,” Kelton Vasileff, MD, an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in sports medicine and hip preservation at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, tells Yahoo Beauty.

In fact, he points to screen time guidelines recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, which suggests limiting screen use to one hour per day for children ages to 2 to 5 while encouraging parents to establish limits for children ages 6 and older in order to “make sure media does not take the place of adequate sleep, physical activity and other behaviors essential to health.”

Vasileff theorizes that climbing the ladder of success has also placed physical activity on the back burner.

“As high schools get more competitive, college admissions get more competitive, as well as jobs and graduate schools, people spend more and more time trying to one-up each other rather than doing some kind of sport after school or work,” he continues. “There’s been a push in our schools towards testing, The No Child Left Behind Act, and hitting different markers and thresholds that there’s been a significant sacrifice of recreation time. And a lot of schools have even dropped gym classes in order to put in more academic time so the students can try to hit those benchmarks. So I think there’s a continued de-emphasis of movement.”

While a number of recent studies have found that Americans continue to live sedentary lives, keep in mind that the key to increasing physical activity comes down to putting one foot in front of the other—and these steps don’t necessarily need to be taken in the gym.

“I have three young kids and a dog and we try to make it a point in our family to get outside after dinner,” says Vasileff. “We take the scooters and the bike and we’ll ride around a couple of blocks or we’ll go down to the park and play for an hour.”

He also advises the traditional fitness tips that he incorporates into his everyday life, such as parking the car in the back of a lot and taking the stairs instead of the elevator. “It’s better to get my heart rate up for 30 seconds than no seconds!”

If you’re looking for a quick sweat session, he advises downloading apps that offer 7-minute challenges since “recent science supports that 7-minute workouts are significant and almost as good as getting to the gym for a half-hour.”

But again, a simple walk each day will also do the trick. “Just move!” concludes Vasileff.

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