Study: Climate change is causing poor children’s fitness

A new study finds that rising global temperatures – fueled by climate change – are making children less fit and fatter than ever.

It’s a two-way street: Fitness is also key to enduring the high temperatures.

A less active lifestyle resulting from higher temperatures puts children at greater risk of suffering heat-related health problems, including dehydration, heat cramps, heat stress and heat stroke, according to The Guardian. the studyPublished in the journal Temperature on Friday.

“As the world warms, children are less fit than ever,” author Shonda Morrison, an environmental exercise physiologist at the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia, said in a statement.

“It is essential that children are encouraged to do daily physical activity to build and maintain their physical fitness, so that they enjoy moving their bodies and do not feel like ‘work’ or ‘chore’ for them,” he added.

Morrison argued that today’s climate change policies fail to address child health needs, stressing the critical nature of encouraging children to make exercise a daily part of their lives.

Morrison drew her conclusions by combing through more than 150 scientific studies on how to keep children physically active and deal with heat, as well as how the situation might change as global temperatures rise.

One of its main findings was that children’s fitness was 30 percent lower than that of their parents of the same age. Meanwhile, most children fail to meet the World Health Organization’s guidelines for participating in about an hour of physical activity each day.

Physical inactivity grew worse, particularly in Europe, during the coronavirus pandemic, when schools and other institutions closed, according to the study.

Morrison highlighted previous research indicating that emergency departments at children’s hospitals in the United States reported higher attendance on hot days. Younger children were especially likely to require care.

It also investigated the results of a study of 457 primary schools in Thailand that determined that overweight students were twice as likely to have difficulties regulating body temperature when exercising outdoors as those of normal weight.

With temperatures soaring around the world, Morrison warned that parents may increasingly be deciding it’s “too hot” outside.

In turn, this may mean that children who are not fit may have greater difficulties meeting the minimum levels of physical activity required to stay healthy, according to the study.

The research found that while changes in weather patterns are expected to cause outbreaks of new diseases in humans, movement restrictions aimed at containing such diseases could also harm children’s fitness.

Morrison identified physical education classes as the most cost-effective way to provide children with the tools they need to exercise throughout their lives. According to the study, families can also play a major role in encouraging such activity.

“Do whatever you love to do, whether that’s riding the family bike or roller coaster, hiking in the woods or walking the dog,” Morrison said.

“Try not to avoid the heat completely but choose less hot times of the day (morning/evening) to stay active, because we need to keep moving in this new world of warmth,” she added.