Decline in physical activity often starts as early as age 7

Date: April 8, 2019

Source: University of Jyväskylä - Jyväskylän yliopisto


Overall physical activity starts to decline already around the age of school entry. While the proportion of physically inactive individuals rises with age there still are groups of people who manage to increase their physical activity level in adulthood and old age.


The Telegraph

edited by kcontents

부지런, 게으름 습관...7살 때부터 차이 보여

핀란드 지배스킬래대학교 연구팀

   어른이 되서 활동적이고 부지런한 사람이 되려면 어릴 때부터 신체활동을 늘려야 될 것으로 보인다. 행동이 느리고 움직이기 싫어하는 게으른 행동이 7살 때부터 시작된다는 연구 결과가 나왔기 때문이다.

핀란드 지배스킬래대학교 연구팀은 2004~2018년 사이에 각기 다른 나라에서 발표된 27개 연구 논문을 분석했다. 그 결과, 어린이와 10대들의 운동량이 급속하게 감소하고 있는 것으로 나타났다.

이리냐 로우나살로 연구원은 “연구 결과 많은 10대들이 운동을 그만두며, 전반적인 신체활동이 초등학교 초기 때부터 감소하기 시작하는 것으로 드러났다”며 “어린이나 사춘기 시절 신체활동을 활발하게 해야 후일 활동하지 못하게 되는 상황을 지연시킬 수 있기 때문에 어린 시절 운동은 아주 중요하다”고 말했다.

어린이와 청소년의 경우, 부모가 활동적인 생활방식을 하도록 도움을 주면 활동성이 증가하는 것으로 나타났다. 10대들은 TV 앞에서 보내는 시간을 줄이게 하면 신체활동이 늘어났다.

성인의 경우에는 담배를 끊으면 활동성이 증가했다. 또 꾸준히 운동을 하는 노인들은 만성 질환이 적고, 사망률이 낮으며, 신체 기능이 뛰어난 것으로 밝혀졌다.

로우나살로 연구원은 “비활동적인 습관은 활동적인 습관보다 지속되는 경우가 많기 때문에 어린 시절부터 활동적인 습관을 가질 수 있도록 중재 노력이 필요하다”며 “부모들이 자녀에게 학교 정규 수업 외에 스포츠클럽 활동 등을 하도록 하는 것 등의 지원 노력이 필요하다”고 말했다.

이번 연구 결과(Distinct trajectories of physical activity and related factors during the life course in the general population: a systematic review)는 ‘BMC 퍼블릭 헬스(BMC Public Health)’에 실렸다.

권순일 기자 kstt77@kormedi.com코메디닷컴

edited by kcontents


Overall physical activity starts to decline already around the age of school entry. While the proportion of physically inactive individuals rises with age there still are groups of people who manage to increase their physical activity level in adulthood and old age.

While the level of physical activity varies between individuals, it can also vary within individuals during the life course. A recent study, carried out in collaboration between the University of Jyväskylä and LIKES Research Centre for Physical Activity and Health, systematically reviewed scientific articles identifying distinct subgroups of physical activity and the factors related to these subgroups in the general population in different countries during different life phases.

The proportion of the decreasingly active individuals was exceptionally high during childhood and adolescence. Drop-out from sport participation was prevalent in adolescence while the overall physical activity started to decline already around the age of school entry among highly, moderately and low active children. The studies using self-reported measures of physical activity reported the decline of physical activity to be initiated around the age of ten while studies using modern, objective measures of physical activity found the corresponding age to be as early as seven years of age.

"However, it seems that the physical activity level of those decreasing their physical activity does not approximate to the level of the inactive ones before reaching mid-age or old age," says PhD student Irinja Lounassalo from the Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences at the University of Jyväskylä. "Thus, despite the common declining tendency of physical activity throughout the life course, being physically active in childhood and adolescence may be of high importance since it can postpone the time of becoming inactive later on."

The results support previous findings of the relatively high proportion of persistently inactive individuals at all ages, with this proportion increasing with age. Interestingly, subgroups of increasingly active participants were observed among adults and older adults.

"In the future, special attention should be paid to these individuals who increase their physical activity, because it is important to understand how potential lifelong inactivity could be turned into activity," Lounassalo suggests.

Having parental support for an active lifestyle was associated with increasing physical activity among children and adolescents, low television viewing time with persistent activity among adolescents, smoking cessation with increased activity among adults, and no chronic illnesses, a low mortality rate and good physical functioning with persistent activity among older adults. Generally, male gender, being Caucasian and having higher socioeconomic status were associated with persistent activity.


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"Since physical activity behavior stabilizes with age and inactivity is more persistent behavior than activity, interventions should be targeted at children early in life before their habits become stable," emphasizes Lounassalo. "Additionally, supporting schools and sport clubs is crucial for promoting an active lifestyle for all children. Since parents may have an effect on activating their children, parents would need support for finding ways to do that. Building publically available sport facilities and safe bicycling and walkways might help in increasing opportunities for being active regardless of age, nationality, gender or educational level."


Twenty-seven articles published between 2004 and 2018 were included in this systematic review. All of the included studies used the so-called trajectory approach for identifying the distinct subgroups (i.e. trajectory classes) from the data at hand.

"Only in recent years has the number of studies identifying distinct physical activity trajectory classes increased," Lounassalo explains. "In trajectory studies, the target behavior of individuals in the same trajectory class is expected to be similar, while it differs from that of the individuals in the other classes. The studies included in this review most commonly reported three or four physical activity subgroups describing either persistent, increasing or decreasing activity or inactivity."


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