Photograph: MAJA SUSLIN / TT
Swedish children need to move more, writes the secretary general of Hjärt-Lungfonden.
A new study shows that Swedish children and young people are moving less and less. At the same time, it increases both overweight and sedentary lifestyle, which increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. Now, municipalities, schools and parents are expected to contribute to the 17,000 Blekinge elementary school children who receive physical activity as a natural part of everyday life, writes Kristina Sparreljung, Secretary General of the Heart-Lung Foundation.
The animated game and the desire to move is one of the things we most associate with childhood. Physical activity is an essential part of being young – from the instinctive urge to run wherever you go for organized training with friends of the sports team.
It is important to establish good exercise habits at an early stage, since daily movement at a young age can double the likelihood of you being physically active later in life. Adolescents who have a reduced risk of being overweight as adults, which in turn reduces the risk of suffering from type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, such as stroke and heart attack.
A new study, supported by the Heart-Lung Foundation, now shows that Swedish children and young people are moving less and less. In the study, children aged 8, 11 and 14 were equipped in six schools in south-east Sweden with pedometers. The worst was the development of 14 year olds. Between 2000 and 2017, the daily number of girls fell from 12,700 to 9,700, a decrease of 24%. Boys' activity fell further, from 15,300 to 10,700 – a drop of up to 30%.
Unfortunately, the sedentary lifestyle itself holds the eras. In the National Public Health Survey of 2018, a total of 65 percent of 16- to 29-year-olds in the country said they were sitting for seven hours or more for one day. Each third in the age group responded that they spend more than ten hours of the sedentary day. In the other year, an OECD report showed that young Swedes are less physically active than the EU average and that every 15-year-old Swedish is overweight.
Today, interaction with friends is done through chat, rather than on-site sports, and we willingly take our children to friends and leisure activities because they do not have to walk or pedal alone. The many sedentary habits, slowly but surely, contribute to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease as adults.
In order to break the negative development, Hjärt-Lungfonden wants to urge the municipalities, schools and parents of Blekinge to combat sedation. By creating environments that stimulate movement, making physical activity a natural part of every school day, and setting a good example, we can help the next generation to live a longer, healthier life.
Secretary General of the Heart-Lung Foundation
Chairman of the Hjärt-Lungfonden Research Council