The increasing popularity of the micro scooter in NZ is good news on several fronts. For inner-city dwellers, it’s a fun way to commute to the office. For environmentally-conscious inner-city dwellers, it’s an eco-friendly commute as well. For kids, a micro scooter is a cool way to get around – and for the parents of those kids, the scooter is good news as well. It means that their kids are active, and getting the exercise they need. In this part of the world, that is not happening as often as it should.
The first global report into physical activity trends among 11 to 17-year-olds revealed an alarming statistic: 89 % of young New Zealanders and Australians are not active enough. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends teenagers should get at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day for teenagers, but a large majority in the report did not reach this target.
The 2019 study collected data from school-based surveys on physical activity levels of 1.6 million students across 146 countries. It included active play, recreation and sports, active domestic chores, active transportation and planned exercise. Australia was one of the worst performers, coming in at 140 out of 146 countries. Before Kiwis get too cock-a-hoop and indulge in one-upmanship against our trans-Tasman cousins it is sobering to report that New Zealand didn’t do much better, coming in at 138.
The study was conducted by the WHO, Imperial College London, and the University of Western Australia and found more than 80% of school-going adolescents around the world didn’t meet that one-hour activity target. In New Zealand and Australia, recommended physical activity among teens has gradually reduced since 2001. In 2001, 87.2% of New Zealand teens compared to 88.7% in the most recent study. In Australia, the percentage increased from 87% to 89%.
No prizes for guessing that technology is largely to blame. Researchers conducting the study call it the “electronic revolution” which has altered movement patterns by progressively isolating people indoors. We sit more and walk less. We drive more and do less physical activities than the generations before us. As for children, the study confirmed what we already suspected: they are wrapped up in digital play and spend more time indoors than outdoors.
The study is concerning but not at all surprising. Consider how we, as adults, have embraced the gadgets and devices of the digital era, and the technology that makes our lives easier. Smartphones, cheaper cars, e-bikes, laptops, smart TVs – all of these things combine to reduce our physical activity. We’re hardly setting a fine example for our children. Maybe it’s time to contact a scooter retailer in New Zealand and order one for the kids – and one for yourself? Leading by example, might be the best way to ensure your Kiwi kid is an active one.