Children are less active due to climate-related failure: Study

WOODGetting kids to be active in a modern world is a tough sell. Hard to compete with home comforts like video games, televisions and air conditioning.

Hot weather is another formidable barrier to children getting enough physical activity, finding a new one scientific assessment published in a magazine Temperature analyzed more than 150 studies. The study concludes: Children today are about 30% less adapted to aerobics than their parents of the same age, leaving them unprepared to adapt to hotter, more extreme climates as they age. older age, the study concluded. Study author Shawnda Morrison, cardiovascular and exercise physiologist and assistant professor at the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia, said: people around the world”. She is also the founder of Active Healthy Kids Slovenia, an organization that researches and advocates for children’s physical activity.

Over time, climate change has made the weather as extreme as heat wave more popular. Air quality is also getting worse – not only from pollution from burning fossil fuels, but also from pollen levels from climate change and wildfires, the smoke from which can sting your eyes and cause air pollution. penetrate deep into the human lungs. A warming world is also expected increase the spread of infectious diseases as animals spread pathogens change and expand their territory.

All of that climate-related fallout contributes to children’s inactivity, which threatens their lifelong health, says Morrison. According to a 2018 report included in the assessment, which compared children’s activity levels across 49 countries, only 39% (or less) of children in most of those countries were adequately physically active. Globally, the vast majority of children also do not meet the World Health Organization’s recommendation that on average children should get at least one hour of moderate-intensity exercise per day, according to one meta-analysis published in July and included in the review. Many children have become even more sedentary during the COVID-19 pandemic, the review said.

Morrison says this kicks off an unhealthy cycle as kids who don’t get in the habit of getting enough physical activity tend to be inactive as adults. As a result, children today are not only “extremely unfit” — “they don’t like to move either,” she says.

Such children may not be prepared for a hotter future. People who are fit for aerobics typically have a higher tolerance for heat, says Morrison, because they tend to have a lower resting core temperature and the ability to sweat more efficiently. Because healthy people tend to have better blood circulation, their hearts don’t have to work as much to move blood around to cool them. Unhealthy adults are also more susceptible to chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer, thereby making them more likely to experience the negative health effects of heat, such as stroke. heat stroke and heart attack.

Read more: Why is too high a temperature harmful to the human body?

Climate experts also expect extreme events — such as hurricanes, heat waves, wildfires and droughts — to happen more often and more likely to happen at the same time. Those who are more agile can be more prepared to survive these types of emergencies. “I know that people are uncomfortable in the heat,” Morrison said. “But I think it’s important to emphasize that this is a life-or-death situation.”

However, early childhood provides an opportunity to build healthy habits that children can maintain throughout life. While many social factors beyond the family’s control affect children’s physical well-being — like living near green spaces and taking adequate physical education classes at school — Morrison says parents also help. Children build healthy habits by encouraging them to play outside or sometimes choosing more active forms of transport such as biking, walking, or jogging instead of driving.

According to Morrison, when temperatures rise, it’s up to parents to keep children safe in hot temperatures. Younger children may not be taking steps to cool down, which means parents must keep them hydrated or in the shade if they are red in the face, seem tired or otherwise. signs of overheating.

However, parents should not be afraid to take their children outdoors when it is hot. Being outdoors more often can help children’s bodies adapt to warmer environments, which will make them less vulnerable to dangers like heat stroke, Morrison said. She suggests encouraging children to play outside in the spring, as soon as the weather starts to get hotter, to help them get used to the heat. Taking your child outside in the morning or evening, when the weather is cooler, will also help keep them safer and happier outside, which is key.

Morrison knows that getting the kids out isn’t always easy. When she picks up three and five-year-olds from school every day, she takes them to the playground to play for an hour. “I know it’s hard for parents, but you really have to take the time to do this, especially with young children,” she said. “It really has to be built into your day as a priority.”

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