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Many teens as sedentary as 60-year-olds, study shows

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Baltimore – Activity levels among older adolescents are “alarmingly low” and by age 19 compare to those of 60-year-olds, according to a recent study from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Researchers analyzed 2003-2004 and 2005-2006 data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which used tracking devices to monitor 12,529 Americans ages 6 to 85. Participants wore the devices for seven days, removing them only to bathe and sleep, as researchers charted changes in physical activity among five age groups: 6 to 11, 12 to 19, 20 to 29, 31 to 59 and 60 to 84.

Results showed that, among 12- to 19-year-olds, more than 50 percent of males and more than 75 percent of females did not meet World Health Organization recommendations of at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day.

Researchers said the time structure of a normal school day may influence activity levels. “For school-age children, the primary window for activity was the afternoon between 2 and 6 p.m.,” Vadim Zipunnikov, study senior author and assistant professor in the Bloomberg School’s Department of Biostatistics, said in a June 15 press release. “So the big question is how do we modify daily schedules, in schools for example, to be more conducive to increasing physical activity?”

The study was published online June 1 in the journal Preventive Medicine.

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