Making an Urgent Case for Physical Activity

Today’s youth could be the first generation ever not to outlive its parents’ generation. They could have a life expectancy that is five years shorter. To paraphrase Nike, we have to just move it!

Mary Dell, of Grown and Flown, writes: From the moment we know our children exist, months before we lay eyes on them, we hope and pray for their good health. Unfortunately, the news that we learned last week at the Social Good Summit is not all good.  At a session titled Designed to Move: A Physical Activity Action Agenda, a terrible statistic was flashed on the screen behind the speakers:

Today’s youth could be the first generation in history not to outlive its parents’ generation. They are on track to have a life expectancy that is five years shorter.

The reason? physical inactivity.

Charles Denson, Nike brand president; Allyson Felix, Olympic gold medalist; Dr. Bill Kohl, Professor of Epidemiology and Kinesiology at the University of Texas; and the moderator, Adam Ostrow from Mashable took the stage to present study findings titled Designed to Move (DTM). Denson spoke about how his company has teamed up with 70 other organizations around the world to shed light on the risks of physical inactivity.

These chilling statistics were presented for the US:


The typical child in the US becomes 75% less active between the ages of 9 – 15.

Physical activity in the US has declined 32% during the last 44 years.

The direct cost of inactivity will lead to a 113% increase in health care costs by 2030.

DTM is targeting kids up to age 10 (and their parents and schools) with two major initiatives:

1. Create Early Positive Experiences for Children - A generation that enjoys positive experiences in physical education, sports and physical activity early in life has the chance to shape the new future. This generation could break cycles of inactivity where they already exist, or prevent them before they start.

2. Integrate Physical Activity into Everyday Life - Economies, cities and cultures can be shaped and designed to encourage and enable physical movement. In fact, some already are. These are the bright spots. To ensure a better future for all, they need to be the norm.

So what about the rest of us who don’t have young kids around the house or don’t interact with that age group?  Does this mean that we can smugly go about our business as if the risks don’t apply to us?

The answer, of course, is no and here is why:

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Annie C. Bai October 05, 2012 at 01:49 PM
Thank you for speaking on this vital issue. I find life is Faroese enjoyable when my body is as engaged and challenged as my mind, My kids and I have discovered the thrill of participating in local races. They are 7, 5 and 3 and excited to run the kids' races at "Run the Farm" at Muscoot Farm on October 21. The older have run a couple races, so the younger one started chasing after them on the local middle school track. He recently ran around it nearly twice! So I think he's ready for the 0.6 miler and I will run with him too because parents are invited to run with the little kids. They feel so accomplished when they receive medals at the end of a race!
Lisa Buchman October 05, 2012 at 02:24 PM
Annie - the blog you posted about the FLMS ropes course hits on this point as well: http://patch.com/B-cy2x A great way for kids to keep moving, build community.
Grown and Flown October 06, 2012 at 01:11 PM
Annie and Lisa, it's wonderful to learn about local opportunities and "Run the Farm" sounds like fun!


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