According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), children ages 6-17 should get a good 60 minutes of “moderate” or “vigorous-intensity” physical activity a day, activity that is both aerobic and strengthens muscles and bones.
Sad thing is, so many U.S. children don’t get anywhere near this much. According to one CDC statistic, only about half of older youths participate in an hour of physical activity even a couple of days a week, let alone every day. Another CDC report notes that more than 27 percent of Indiana residents of all ages get, essentially, no physical activity at all save daily living.
So, many of us aren’t moving much beyond car to house to couch to refrigerator to bed and back, our children included.
And not only are U.S. children characteristically physically inactive, but they’re also spending their time indoors. I couldn’t find hard-and-fast numbers — though I did read one statistic that said U.S. children spend 85 percent of their time indoors — but I’m suspicious many U.S. children have never climbed a tree, sprinted across a field or hiked across a rocky creek.
Children aren’t moving much, and they’re not playing outside.
My Amish friends are probably thinking, “Don’t play outside? What is it English children do indoors all day?”
Ah, well, they’re often tethered to couches or gaming chairs with their faces gazing at screens. When I was young it was Atari and its “Space Invaders” and MTV. I don’t know what all it is today — just know that there’s more of it than ever. In our house, which I sometimes delusionally consider a NON-plugged-in place, we have two laptop computers, one desktop computer, two cell phones, a Kindle and an iPad. No television, but that’s not saying much, and most families have at least one TV and its zillion channels as well.
Many people — me included — would tell you raising crops of indoorsy children is a travesty. It’s bad for the children; it’s likely bad for society. Children should be outside to play, to run, to climb, to jump, to think and, even, to work. Yes, work. Someone recently told me I was harsh for requiring my children to rake the copious amounts of grass that my husband had mowed.
I assure you, my children can and should rake grass. If you’d like to host a good pity party for them, know they’re also required to weed the garden, feed the cats and hang clothes out to dry.