Kids in the Woods

As I continue researching the growing disconnect between children and the outdoors, a number of startling statistics continue to amaze me.

It has been estimated that 30 years ago, the average kid spent 4 to 5 hours a day playing in the outdoors and double this time on weekends.

According to a recent study by the National Sporting Goods Association, the number of young people age 7-17 who biked in 2004 was down over 20 percent from 1994. Sales of new bicycles have been on the decline every year for more than a decade.

Angling participation rates have also fallen 10.4 percent in the same decade and for the youngest bracket, age 7-11, the rate has declined by over 25 percent.

In roughly, the same timeframe, the current generation has become increasingly wired, with studies revealing the average teenager now spends upwards of 37 hours a week staring at a screen, whether on a television, video game, computer or a cell phone.

With this knowledge in hand, it is of little wonder that an estimated 16.5 percent of American children, aged 5-19 years, are either overweight or obese. Of even greater concern is the fact that our children are on pace to be significantly fatter than we are by the time they reach adulthood.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that in high schools, where kids have more scheduling choices, participation in daily physical education has fallen from 41.6 percent in 1991 to 28.4 percent now.

The current generation may be the first in over a century to have a shorter life span than their parents.

Such facts should prompt families to stay active. It should be an easy and enjoyable task, for across the North Country; we are fortunate to have a wealth of outstanding opportunities to stay fit.

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