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Today's Teenagers Even Less Active Than We Thought

Update Date: Jun 21, 2017 10:51 AM EDT

Despite the effort by outreach programs like Fuel Up to Play 60 and former First Lady Michelle Obama's activity campaign Let's Move, a new study suggests that our kids aren't moving.

A new study by Johns Hopkins shows that teenagers and adolescents have decreased their activity, and that 19 year-olds have the same activity level as 60 year-olds. 

It sounds like Junior and Granddad need to start jogging together.

Published in the journal Preventive Medicine, the study suggests that the deficit in activity is contributing to the growing obesity epidemic. 

Adolescents are likely to have the least activity in the morning, a time when activity can boost your metabolism and set the pace for the day. The decrease in morning activity may have an effect on childhood obesity rates.

"Activity levels at the end of adolescence were alarmingly low, and by age 19, they were comparable to 60-year-olds," according to Vadim Zipunnikov, professor in the Bloomberg School's Department of Biostatistics. "For school-age children, the primary window for activity was the afternoon between 2:00 and 6:00 pm. So the big question is how do we modify daily schedules, in schools for example, to be more conducive to increasing physical activity?" 

I'm thinking wind sprints at opening bell would be a good idea.

The study used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, analyzing activity with ankle bracelets to monitor subjects throughout the day. Adolescents showed less activity than people in their 20s, perhaps due to the latter starting in the work force. People in their 20s were the only group to show an increase in their activity.

Males in the study were more active than females, though this showed a steady decline after age 35. The trend reversed after age 60 with females showing more activity in their later years and males showing a more sedentary lifestyle. 

"The goal of campaigns aimed at increasing physical activity has focused on increasing higher-intensity exercise," says Zipunnikov. "Our study suggests that these efforts should consider time of day and also focus on increasing lower-intensity physical activity and reducing inactivity." 

It is hoped that the study will not only show the deficit in activity among age groups but provide insights regarding time of day to encourage physical activity.

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