Physical Activity In Decline For Most Kids By School Age Interview with:
Professor John J Reilly
University of Strathclyde Glasgow
Physical Activity for Health Group
Scotland, UK What is the background for this study?

Response: There is Concern that levels of physical activity among modern children are typically very low, well below the amounts recommended for their physical & mental health, well-being, and academic attainment.

It has been assumed for many years that physical activity levels begin to become a problem at adolescence, and this adolescent decline in activity is especially marked in girls. What are the main findings?

1. Physical activity- in our sample of 545 individuals studies at ages seven, nine, 12, and 15 using activity monitors for six to seven days at each time point- was already low and was in decline from age seven, well before adolescence.

2. The physical activity decline was not especially marked at adolescence, or in girls.

3. In a minority of boys (19% of boys) and girls (12% of girls) physical activity was maintained at a relatively high level from age seven to 15 years. these are interesting exceptions to the general pattern. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: We should no longer see girls,or adolescents, as the only high risk groups for low physical activity; the entire population is at high risk. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: Efforts to promote or maintain physical activity need to start well before adolescence, and should not just focus on girls. Physical activity seems to be in decline in most children by the time they start school. We need to address more research and policy effort at lifestyles of younger children of both sexes.

We also need to direct more research effort at the interesting minority in both sexes who maintained a relatively high physical activity from age seven to 15 years. We don’t know why they were different to the rest – for example, were they more engaged in sport ? – and understanding why and how they differed from the rest of the population would help us develop strategies for preventing the age-related decline in physical activity in future.

There are no conflicts of interest to declare. The work was funded by the UK MRC and the Scottish Government Chief Scientist Office. Thank you for your contribution to the community.


Farooq MA, Parkinson KN, Adamson AJ, et al

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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Last Updated on March 14, 2017 by Marie Benz MD FAAD