According to a current study, after the decline in physical activity among children and young people during the corona pandemic, there is no reversal in this negative trend. As the Federal Institute for Population Research (BiB) in Wiesbaden announced, young people in Germany and Europe had already exercised for less than an hour a day before the pandemic. This period is recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).
With the beginning of the pandemic, the movement time fell dramatically again by an average of around a quarter. What is particularly worrying is that there are so far no signs of a reversal of this development, explained BiB research director Martin Bujard. “There is a risk that some of the behavior from the pandemic will be retained permanently.” This could have long-term consequences for the health of young people, the researchers warned.
Children aged 8 to 12 are particularly affected
According to the study, children aged 8 to 12 were most affected by a lack of exercise - especially during times of school closures and restricted club sports, the authors explained. They referred to previous BiB analyzes according to which significantly more children and young people suffered from depression and anxiety symptoms during these phases of the lockdown.
The scientists see an urgent need for action to motivate children and young people to be more physically active again. It must be prevented that a generation grows up due to a lack of exercise and has to struggle with consequential health problems.
“Sports and exercise such as playing outside, swimming or gymnastics should become an integral part of the daily routine of children and young people,” advised study director Helena Ludwig-Walz. "Parks, playgrounds, cycle paths or generally 'green spaces' make it easier to integrate exercise into everyday life."
For the current study, the BiB researchers evaluated data from previous studies that were conducted across Europe on changes in the physical activity of young people during the corona pandemic. A total of 26 studies from 14 countries with data from more than 15,000 children and young people were included.