A sedentary lifestyle has been linked to the development of coronary artery disease, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, obesity, and other chronic diseases of adulthood. Although these conditions are predominantly diseases of adulthood, they are thought to be lifelong processes with their origins in childhood. The promotion of physical activity in early childhood may be important as the initial step in developing lifelong habits that may help forestall future chronic illness. Although some children may be too sedentary, others are participating in training programs and competitive sports that are inappropriate for the preschool age group. Guidelines for fitness and sports participation for preschool children younger than 6 years must be based on a careful consideration of the physical fitness needs as well as the unique developmental requirements and limitations of this age group.
LEVELS OF CHILDHOOD FITNESS
The results of recent national physical fitness testing of school-aged children have raised the concern that we are in the midst of a youth fitness crisis. It is clear from these studies that school-aged children have more body fat and weight than children had 20 years ago.1,2 However, because of the lack of comparable physical fitness tests done in the past, it has been difficult to determine if there has been a decline in physical fitness. Although national surveys, such as the National Children and Youth Fitness Study, have determined norms for field test measures of physical fitness in school-aged children, no such data exist for children younger than 6 years. In addition, it is unknown whether there has been any change in the level of physical fitness of preschool children in recent years.
- Copyright © 1992 by the American Academy of Pediatrics