When was spending a summer afternoon running through the sprinkler replaced with scrolling through the Twitter feed? When did playing catch get swapped for catching the next episode?
According to a study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it happened sometime after this generation’s kids learned to walk—and then chose not to. New data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that 98.5 percent of youth ages 12 to 15 reported watching TV every day, and 91.1 percent reported using the computer outside of school on a daily basis.
One of the most troubling findings was that physical activity among young people tops out before age 10. Yeah, some people’s fitness careers peak before age two—before they even know what fitness is. In 2004, when CDC scientists invited youngster volunteers to participate in “healthy fitness zone” benchmark testing (which involves jogging on a treadmill), only 42 percent qualified for their zone. And that benchmark keeps getting worse.
When scientists compared 2004 fitness levels to new participant levels in 2012, they found a 10 percent decline. “We’re talking about a better than 1 percent per year drop in cardiorespiratory fitness,” said Janet Fulton, a lead epidemiologist with the CDC’s Physical Activity and Health Branch in a New York Times report. “Physical activity should come naturally.”