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09.04.2013 - Ausgabe: 2/2013

Alarming lack of exercise among children

Three quarters of children aged between three and ten play outdoors in Germany every day.


More than half of them take part in sport in a club at least once a week – but this figure decreases with age, too. These were the findings of the KiGGS study carried out by the Robert-Koch Institute in 2006 that followed the habits of 17,641 young girls and boys. Compounding the situation is the increasing amount of time spent consuming media by children and teenagers during the week and at the weekend. 57.1% of all seven to ten-year-olds watch at least an hour of TV each day, with 6.2% spending at least three hours in front of the television.

An increase in the lack of exercise has gripped the population. This is particularly true for children: A growing number of them no longer exercise sufficiently and grow up in front of games consoles instead of pursuing group sporting activities.
In addition, it has also been shown that children with a low social standing and who come from a migrant background take part in sport approximately two to three times less often than children with a high social standing who do not come from a migrant background. Children in the new federal states participate in sport twice a week less than children of the same age that reside in the old federal states.

Steady exercise and a physical examination as early as possible are important to help prevent permanent impairments and threatening illnesses. Far too often it transpires that children can no longer perform simple exercises such as running backwards or standing on one leg. Physical deficiencies such as these have effects on the entire support and musculoskeletal system in later life that can only be guessed at.
This is an alarming development as sport, exercise and preventative measures in promoting health are indispensable ingredients for children and teenagers when growing up. They help prevent illnesses with an eye on later life, too. In addition, physical and sporting activities help allow young people especially to connect with others in such a way that combines fun, play and physical wellbeing.

It’s true that in recent years there have improvements made in an early detection programme which has found widespread acceptance among the population. However, even this programme is experiencing a reduction in the number of participants submitting to individual examinations as the participant’s age increases. In contrast to this decline there has been an increase in the number of general motor and co-ordination deficiencies, poor posture issues and disturbances in muscle function. Complaints arising from the aforementioned are often treated with unnecessary remedies, as very few children receive a diagnosis from an orthopaedic specialist. Visiting a specialist at the right time for orthopaedic treatment and emergency surgery helps avoid unnecessary complaints.

The BVOU (Berufsverband der Fachärzte für Orthopädie und Unfallchirurgie) is the Professional Association for Specialists of Orthopaedics and Emergency Surgery in Germany. It is investing in the next generation with its nationwide action week “Show us your feet”. This is an important contribution to helping improve awareness in the public arena and an equally important contribution towards helping children to find exercise fun again. Parents should also be prompted into giving their children timely preventive medical check-ups and to think about exercise.

The nationwide action week “Show us your feet” took place from 3 to 7 December 2012 in primary schools. The events were designed with primary pupils in mind and were led by orthopaedic specialists at the individual schools. This was no traditional teaching environment; rather it was an interactive learning environment for the children. The children participate in exercises that help raise awareness of how important their feet are for their body as they are growing. One of the goals of the event: the young patients should learn to have fun again while enjoying healthy exercise!
Patronage of the event was assumed this year by Dr. Carola Reimann, chairperson of the German Bundestag health committee and Federal Minister of the SPD parliamentary party in the Bundestag.

Have fun doing healthy exercise

“We would like to illustrate just how important exercise and physical activity is, especially during the school years,” said Dr. Andreas Gassen, Vice-president of the BVOU. “Combined with the expertise provided by specialists, exercise and physical activity help avoid permanent damage and threatening illnesses, which are often more curable when caught early enough.” We are just as keen to get parents active and involved in this important phase of their child’s life.”

“We’re happy not simply because our members and numerous schools have confirmed their participation in advance. We’re also delighted to hear the support for our project emanating from other groups in society from diverse fields such as sport, the political sphere and children’s parents,” continued Andreas Gassen. “We’ve already achieved an important goal: we want to actively contribute to public awareness of the subject. Children should once again begin to enjoy healthy exercise.”

Further information: www.aktion-orthofit.de

Photos: Berliner Seilfabrik, SIK, BVOU

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