Biking to school? No, way! Not in this century!

The burgeoning demands of "wired play," which are often accomplished alone or with just one other kid, leave little time for Junior to ride a bike, take a hike or go skiing or sledding. Is it any wonder we are becoming an obese nation? You can't throw a snowball or ride a sled on a Wii.

This growing inactivity crisis among America's youth and the quiet disconnect between youth and the outdoors may have serious consequences unless it is addressed in the near future.

What are we doing?

Although The Outdoor Foundation's 2010 report revealed increases in a number of recreational pursuits last year, there were also significant decreases, especially in activities they have been tracked for more than a decade.

The Outdoor Foundation worked with its partners in the Physical Activity Council to measure participation in 117 diverse sports, fitness and recreational activities. In total, 77 percent of Americans age 6 and older, or about 217 million people, participated in at least one activity.

However, this still leaves 33 percent or 64.6 million people who are inactive, even in the broadest definition of activity.

The report revealed the major activity increase has been in running/jogging, which is up 39.8 percent over the past decade. Activities including day hiking/8.4 percent, trail running/16.0 percent percent and snowshoeing/17.4 percent experienced similar increases.

On the flip side, activities reporting a decade long decrease include BMX bicycling/-43.6 percent, canoeing/-7.6 percent, freshwater fishing/-6.3 percent, flyfishing/-17.1 percent and scuba diving/-36.7 percent

It is estimated nearly 151 million Americans took part in at least one high calorie activity. This number drops to 78 million people who claim to be frequent participants in high calorie activities, less than one-third of the nation's population above the age of six.

More than half of the adult population is sedentary; they do not participate in any physical activities. Although three-quarters of all student age respondents reported they took part in PE at school regularly, only about one-third participated in outdoor activities, team sports or cycling. Better than half (55.6 percent) of all school-age children reported being non-active outside of PE class.

Joe Hackett is a guide and sportsman residing in Ray Brook. Contact him at brookside18@adelphia.net.

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