Karlsruhe: Less mobile children after two years of Corona

Although the children in Baden-Württemberg are fitter than the average boys and girls in Germany, this is no reason to be happy after two years of Corona.

Because without school sports and gymnastics clubs, the youngest have lost a lot of fitness, as can be seen from the data of the Baden-Württemberg Children’s Gymnastics Foundation. “The overall fitness value collapsed during Corona”, says the “Fitness Barometer 2022”, among other things. Children tend to be slower and less resilient than they were before the coronavirus pandemic, and their coordination skills have also worsened.

Decreased resistance and speed.

“The level is constantly low,” says Professor Klaus Bös of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) about the latest data. The children’s endurance and speed have tended to decrease in the last two years of Corona, and the very high level of coordination has also decreased significantly, while mobility has remained unchanged. “At the same time, there is a tendency to improve in terms of strength.”

According to experts, exercise favors the psychological, social and cognitive development of children. According to the Robert Koch Institute, physical activity can also prevent the development of obesity (obesity) in childhood and adolescence. Therefore, children of kindergarten age should exercise at least 180 minutes a day and at least 90 minutes of school age.

Since 2012, the Baden-Württemberg Children’s Gymnastics Foundation has been researching the physical fitness of children aged three to ten in the southwest with the help of sports scientists from KIT. Their results tie in with other studies on the consequences of corona. Bös says that it will only be possible to make statements about the long-term effects of the pandemic on the physical state of children in the coming years. “The data is a snapshot.”

Based on the data, it is not yet clear whether it is just a crown dent or a crown twist. However, it can already be determined that previous generations were fitter as children and adolescents, says Bös after evaluating data on around 25,400 children collected by education specialists, teachers and sports specialists.

Additional exercise options for children are required.

During the pandemic, gymnastics and sports clubs had to cancel their offerings altogether or cut them back, and school sports were also canceled for months. “At the same time, leisure time and everyday life at home with the family became more active, and walking and cycling became very popular,” explains Susanne Weimann, executive director of the foundation. Parents would have done more strengthening exercises in a small space with their children during the lockdown. The goal should be to maintain an active family life and to offer additional sports and exercise classes in gym and sports clubs, in kindergartens and schools. “Then it would be a big step against acute lack of exercise,” says Weimann.

“A lot, and if possible in the long term, it really helps a lot when it comes to promoting exercise,” advises sports scientist Bös. “You don’t become obese or very fit overnight.” There must be offers that are sustainably anchored and also networked in the municipality and in municipal institutions. Bös criticizes that there is still a lack of awareness in politics that the body is as important as the head. “For months, physical education classes went dormant during the pandemic, while concepts for regular classes came up very quickly,” he says.

But sports clubs also need to rethink: “They lose too many children because they start playing sports too early and the boys and girls end up losing motivation,” says Bös. “Children have to become much more general in sport.” Therefore, the concepts are important for the “sport of a lifetime”, that is, for the sports that you practice for many years.

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