Modern life has made British children weaker in the last decade

Telegraph (UK) 22 May 2011

A shift away from traditional activities like climbing trees, ropes and wall bars has made modern 10-year-olds physically weaker than their counterparts a decade ago. They can do fewer sit ups, are less able to hang from wall bars and are generally less muscular than those brought up in the 1990s. The findings, published in the child health journal Acta Paediatrica, have led to fresh concern about the impact on children’s health caused by the shift away from outdoor activities. “This is probably due to changes in activity patterns among English 10-year-olds, such as taking part in fewer activities like rope-climbing in PE and tree-climbing for fun,” said Dr Gavin Sandercock, the lead author at Essex University. “Typically, these activities boosted children’s strength, making them able to lift and hold their own body weight.” Dr Sandercock, a fitness expert, and his team studied how strong a group of 315 Essex 10-year-olds in 2008 were compared with 309 children the same age in 1998. They found that even though children had the same height to weight ratio, they were becoming weaker, less muscular and unable to do physical tasks that previous generations found simple, research has revealed.