Children in U.S. get more exercise than in NL?

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Children in U.S. get more exercise than in NL?

Postby wangell » Mon Oct 28, 2013 11:19 pm

UNICEF's most recent report on child well-being in OECD countries ranks the U.S. at the top and NL near the bottom. Could this really be given NL children riding to school as much as they do? The league ranking largely comes from this report (beginning on pg 129):

http://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/p ... people.pdf

A few thoughts. Perhaps kids in NL (and Denmark) really do not get much exercise? Or, the wording of the question (60 minutes of moderate to strenuous exercise in a day) caused many NL kids to say no because they only get 40 minutes each day (riding to school)?
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Re: Children in U.S. get more exercise than in NL?

Postby Andre Engels » Sat Nov 02, 2013 1:49 am

It might also be that most children cycle to and from school in such a relaxed way that they don't consider it 'strenuous exercise'? Anyway, it seems that the little amount of exercise does do the Dutch children good - they have the lowest amount of obesity (p.90-91, second-lowest after the Swiss for 11-year olds, lowest for 13 and 15 year olds). They also have the highest self-reported life satisfaction (11 year-olds second after Armenia, 13 and 15 year olds highest) (p. 72-73)
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Re: Children in U.S. get more exercise than in NL?

Postby davidhembrow » Sun Nov 03, 2013 1:12 pm

It's self-reported "exercise" and like all self reported figures, subject to any amount of interpretation.

I suspect that US children taken to sports clubs by car but otherwise taking very little exercise genuinely believe the exercise they take at the sports clubs is strenuous exercise. Dutch children who cycle every day and go to similar sporting events perhaps have a better average degree of fitness and therefore might not feel the same amount of exercise to be so strenuous.
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Re: Children in U.S. get more exercise than in NL?

Postby Robert » Tue Nov 12, 2013 11:56 am

Certainly in the UK there is a bizarre attitude to what constitutes physical activity. There is much fretting that people don't engage in enough "sport". "Sport" generally has a really narrow definition, generally involving recognised sports and sports clubs. I could spend all day every day running up around my local park chasing butterflies, and that wouldn't be counted. If I spent an hour playing football each week with a team, that would be counted. I tried to respond to a survey by my local council about physical activity, but had to abandon it on the first question because the concept of cycling as transport simply didn't fit in with their idea of what constitutes physical activity. That's because cycling as transport does not follow a timetable, and the amount of effort required and for how long that effort is sustained varies depending on the journey.
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Re: Children in U.S. get more exercise than in NL?

Postby wangell » Mon Nov 18, 2013 4:52 am

I have had some conversations with UNICEF and WHO. They are reviewing this issue. I'll post here when I hear more.

In the end, as Andre pointed out, Dutch (Netherlander?) kids look much better on obesity, which would tend to be a rather significant indicator that they do indeed get better/more physical activity. There is also an issue of multiple bits of moderate exercise, like riding a bicycle 15 minutes to school, then 15 minutes to somewhere else, then 15 to home, likely being more beneficial than one 60 minute sweatfest. This even though the sweatfest they've been driven to involved more minutes of activity.
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