Muscle strength in 10 year olds has fallen by 20% to 30% over the 16 year period between 1998 and 2014.
Researchers from the University of Essex took a random sample of ten-year old students from students in Chelmsford, Essex in 1998, 2008 and 2014. They had the same number of boys and girls and matched their socio-economic status.
The tests included jumping , situps and hanging on a bar.
In order to develop strength you have got to use your muscles – you have got to use them repeatedly and you have got to use them regularly. Children are not doing the type of activity which will promote strength.Gavin Sandercock, co-author of the research from the University of Essex.
Children are getting heavier and taller, according to the results, published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport. They also have less muscle endurance. In 1998 boys could do an average of 26 situps in 30 seconds. In 2008 that figure fell to 19.2 and in 2014 it was just 15.4.
The team has not yet researched the reasons why this drop in strength is occurring but speculate that children are spending less time outside, playing, climbing trees etc. and more time on social media and computer games.
Despite being bigger, we are finding 10-year-olds are getting weaker. Even more concerning is that the rate of these declines is accelerating.
Sandercock also wondered if it might not necessarily show a drop in muscle mass, but could instead it could be an increased intolerance to physical discomfort, the children being less willing, or unused to physical strain.
Guidelines say children should be active for sixty minutes of every day and three of those days should be strengthening exercises.