More than 80 per cent of Norwegian youth between the ages of 11 and 17 are not physically active enough, according to global studies by the World Health Organization (WHO).
“Urgent measures are now needed to increase physical activity, especially to promote and retain girls’ participation,” said researcher Dr. Regina Guthold of the WHO.
In Norway, the number of boys involved in physical activity increased from 2001 to 2016 when the figures for the report were collected. The study also shows an increase in the number of girls who are not active enough. In Norway, more than 78 percent of the boys and 88 percent of the girls were not active in 2016, according to the survey.
Overall figures for both girls and boys show that there is a marginal positive change in activity levels among young people.
Similarities throughout the world
The WHO survey includes data from 1.6 million young people aged 11-17 years from 146 countries.
The average figures show that only one in five young people in the world is active enough. Thus, 81 percent of young people had less than one hour of physical activity per day.
And the pattern was astonishingly similar. Even in the countries with the most active youth, such as the United States and Ireland, over 70 percent had too little exercise.
In the countries with the least active youth such as South Korea, Sudan and the Philippines, about 90 percent were not active.
The report said that the benefits of staying in shape are many, especially for the heart, lungs and bones. Several studies also show that physical activity has a positive impact on cognitive development and socialization.
Some discrepancies to take note of
The WHO report is based on questionnaires conducted in schools around the world. According to Forskning.no, there is a large margin of error in such measurements. It is common for participants to give inaccurate responses because they do not remember details or want to put themselves in a better light.
If the activity had been measured with motion meters, it is possible the results would have been different. In a survey at the Norwegian School of Sport from 2018, for example, motion meters showed that over half of Norwegian youths received at least one hour of exercise a day.
Forskning.no also points out that different countries do not necessarily use the same definitions for physical activity. In developing countries with poor school coverage, the survey may not reflect the real average in the country.
© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today