Over 80% of Teens Aren’t Exercising Enough – Here’s What Doctors Say is to Blame

Teens all over the world are not exercising and putting their future health at risk.

By: Amanda Mushro


Photo by: Westend61


A startling new study revealed that teens all over the world are not getting enough daily exercise and are putting their health at risk. While the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that teenagers engage in one hour of moderate to vigorous activity each day, researchers say teens, especially girls, are not meeting this goal. So what’s to blame for their lack of activity? Doctors say too much screen time is taking the place of activities and the results could be dangerous.

The study, which was conducted by researchers at the WHO, looked at 1.6 million children and found that more than 80 percent of kids worldwide, ranging in ages from 11 to 17, do not meet the current recommendations of at least one hour of physical activity per day.

Of all 146 countries studied, researchers found that girls were less active than boys in all but four countries. According to the study, 85 percent of girls are not physically active enough, compared to 78 percent of boys. Before we applaud boys for being more active, the research shows that their activity levels have been on a steady decline while girls’ inactivity has been more consistent.

Here in the United States, gaps between girls’ and boys’ activity levels is even greater with over 80 percent of girls surveyed failing to meet the recommended physical activity as compared to 64 percent of boys. Researchers believe this is the case because girls are often encouraged to focus on sedentary activities or to stay home rather than to play sports or be physical.

“The trend of girls being less active than boys is concerning,” study co-author Dr. Leanne Riley of the World Health Organization (WHO) said. “More opportunities to meet the needs and interests of girls are needed to attract and sustain their participation in physical activity through adolescence and into adulthood.”

The WHO's guidelines for physical activity are based on research that shows exercise is essential for mental and physical health. While there are many factors all over the world that affect why teens are less active, one trend is clear in America. Many have prioritized screen time over physical activity. From social media and video games to watching shows, teens are spending more time in front of screens than ever before.

WHO wants to encourage exercise programs within schools and communities that go beyond traditional sports teams to ensure more teens are finding different ways to be active now and in the future. So, as we head into the New Year and you are setting physical activity goals for yourself, encourage your teen to join you so that everyone in your family can start healthier trends.

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