A new study appearing in the Journal of the American Medical Association says that the majority of teens do not get enough physical activity. Inactivity increases a teen’s risk for heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes. The study followed about 1,000 children of various ages from 2000 to 2006.

Starting at age nine, the children’s activity levels were tracked using a small wearable device to record their movement. Ninety percent of the nine year olds got exercise a couple of hours each day (the government recommends an hour each day). Up through age 12 a majority of children were active at least an hour a day, but by age 15 less than one-third of the children met the recommended activity level.

James Griffin, science officer for the study, said that as children mature, “You would expect somewhat of a decline, but nothing of this magnitude.” He also said it is important for parents to teach their children to enjoy physical activities like walking the dog or playing sports and limit the time they spend in front of the TV or computer.

Dr. Jensen from our Provo office says it is easier for kids to become active if you let them choose their own activity and time limit. They can start out with a 15-minute activity and build from there. Resources and tips for helping your family become more active can be found at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. You can find more information on this study at the National Institute of Health’s website.

Dr. Jensen is also recommending a program developed by Intermountain Healthcare called Get Healthy with 5, 2, 1, 0. It is an easy way to get your family on the road to better health. The program guidelines say everyone should eat at least 5 fruits and vegetables a day, limit TV and video game time to 2 hours or less a day, get one hour or more of physical activity a day, and avoid drinking soda, juices and sports drinks because they contain lots of sugar. To find out more about the program and get a copy of guidelines and tips visit IHC’s website at www.intermountainlive.org or ask your pediatrician about Get Healthy with 5, 2, 1, 0.

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