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U.S. Teen's Heart and Breathing Fitness Declines

How’s your teen’s cardiorespiratory fitness? Cardiorespiratory fitness means the body’s heart and lungs function properly when participating in demanding exercise or activity. Cardiorespiratory fitness measures maximal oxygen uptake, also known...

How’s your teen’s cardiorespiratory fitness? Cardiorespiratory fitness means the body’s heart and lungs function properly when participating in demanding exercise or activity. Cardiorespiratory fitness measures maximal oxygen uptake, also known as VO2max. This is the greatest capacity of the body to use oxygen during exercise.

A low level of cardiorespiratory endurance is associated with an elevated risk of premature death from all causes. High cardiorespiratory endurance is strongly protective against coronary artery disease, which is the leading cause of death in the United States.

According to a new government report, today’s U.S. teen’s cardiorespiratory fitness is decreasing.

Using a specific measure, the researchers found that only about half of boys and one-third of girls between the ages of 12 and 15 had adequate levels of cardiorespiratory fitness. The overall percentage of fit teens went from 52.4 percent in 1999 to 42.2 percent in 2012, according to the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics, part of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Regardless of their age, it turns out that the boys had better cardiorespiratory fitness than girls. Researchers noted that as adolescent's weight increased, this measure of fitness declined.

A smaller percentage of overweight and obese young people had adequate levels of cardiorespiratory fitness than teens who maintained a normal weight. This is particularly significant, given that about one in five U.S. teens between the ages of 12 and 19 is obese.

Regular physical activity offers teens and children many extra benefits.

       Helps build and maintain healthy bones and muscles.

       Helps reduce the risk of developing obesity and chronic diseases, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and colon cancer.

       Reduces feelings of depression and anxiety and promotes psychological well-being.

       May help improve students’ academic performance, including academic achievement and grades, concentration and task management.

If you’re concerned about your teen’s fitness level, talk to your pediatrician or family doctor about programs designed to specifically help teens get fitter.

Sources: Mary Elizabeth Dallas, http://consumer.healthday.com/fitness-information-14/misc-health-news-265/cardiorespiratory-fitness-among-u-s-teens-has-dropped-in-past-decade-report-688187.html

http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/physicalactivity/facts.htm

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About Sue Hubbard, M.D.

Dr. Sue Hubbard is an award winning pediatrician and medical editor for www.kidsdr.com.  She is a native of Washington, D.C. who travelled south to attend the University of Texas at Austin and never left.Read More

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