Two-year pandemic: children more immobile but stronger

/ Pavel Losevsky,

Karlsruhe – Although children in Baden-Württemberg are healthier than boys and girls in Germany on average, it is by no means a reason to be happy after two years with Corona. Without school sports and gymnastics clubs, the youngest have lost a lot of fitness, as shown by data published yesterday by the Baden-Württemberg Children’s Gymnastics Foundation.

“The overall fitness value collapsed during Corona,” says “Fitness Barometer 2022” among other things. Children tend to be slower and less resilient than before the corona pandemic, and their coordination skills have also deteriorated. “The level is constantly low,” said Klaus Bös of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) about the latest data.

Children’s endurance and speed have tended to decline in the last two corona years, and the very high level of coordination has also declined markedly, while mobility has remained unchanged. “At the same time, there is a tendency to improve in strength.”

According to experts, exercise promotes children’s psychological, social and cognitive development. According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), physical activity can also prevent the development of obesity in childhood and adolescence. Boys and girls of daycare age should therefore exercise at least 180 minutes a day and at least 90 minutes of school age.

Since 2012, the Children’s Gymnastics Foundation in Baden-Württemberg has studied fitness in three- to ten-year-olds in the southwest with the help of sports researchers from KIT. Their findings are related to other studies on the consequences of corona. Bös says it will only be possible to comment on the pandemic’s long – term effects on children’s fitness in the coming years. “The data is a snapshot.”

Based on the data, it is still unclear whether it is just a coronadella or a corona crack. However, it can already be established that previous generations were healthier as children and young people, says Bös after assessing data from around 25,400 children collected by educational specialists, teachers and sports specialists.

During the pandemic, gymnastics and sports clubs either had to cancel their offers altogether or cut back on them, and school sports were also canceled for several months. “At the same time, leisure time and everyday life at home with the family became more active, and walks and bike rides were very popular,” explains Susanne Weimann, CEO of the foundation.

Parents would have done several strength exercises in a small place with their children during lockdowns. The goal must be to maintain an active family life and to offer additional sports and exercise classes in gymnastics and sports associations, in day care institutions and schools. “Then a big step would be taken against the acute lack of exercise,” Weimann says.

“A lot – and if possible in the long run – really helps a lot when it comes to promoting exercise,” advises sports researcher Bös. “You also do not become overweight or very fit overnight.”

Bös criticizes that he still lacks an awareness in politics that the body is as important as the head. “For months, sports lessons lay dormant during the pandemic, while concepts for normal classes emerged very quickly,” he says.

But the sports clubs also had to think new: “They lose too many children because they start sports too early, and the boys and girls who eventually lose motivation,” says Bös. “Children need to become much more generalists in sports.” Concepts for “lifetime sports”, ie for sports that are practiced over many years, are therefore important. © dpa /

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