This will come as no surprise to anyone who has listened to baby boomers complain about their kids: Today’s children are less fit than their parents were at the same age.
We knew it!
That information comes from research that looked at 50 fitness studies conducted between 1964 and 2010. It found that today’s kids run slower and have less endurance than their past counterparts.
That’s exactly what I told my kids when they were growing up: They would never be as fast as I was or have as much endurance. There was no way for them to check.
(Also impossible to check: My claim that everyone at school dances would gather around me and clap while I busted a move, and my claim that other students chanted my name every day when I arrived at school. As far as my sons know, I was like a cool character in a Disney Channel show.)
Researchers found that worldwide, kids’ cardiovascular fitness declined by 5 percent every decade since 1975, which coincidentally was the same year that “Baretta” debuted on ABC-TV. So you could make a case that actor Robert Blake is responsible for the slide in fitness – and that’s the name of that tune!
Of course, the terrifying implication is that the people who grew up in the 1960s and 1970s aren’t exactly physical marvels as they enter the September of their lives (how’s that for an optimistic, misty-colored view of life?). If my generation is a bunch of sloths in our twilight years, what will our children look like?
Will they track their time in the mile with a calendar? Will they measure their endurance by seeing how long they can surf the Web?
Perhaps part of the problem is TV.
When I was a preteen, I watched such brilliant TV fare as “The Superstars” (where professional athletes raced old-fashioned bikes and floundered in the water in “races”) and “Battle of the Network Stars” (where Robert Conrad and Gabe Kaplan ran 400-yard races and Dick Van Patten played tennis). The result of that televised fare? Obstacle courses and other TV-inspired games in my backyard with neighbor kids.
Kids watching TV today see reality shows that highlight personal drama and plenty of laziness. If they imitate it, the only fitness required is to attack someone like on “The Jerry Springer Show.”
Heck, even many of the competition shows are about cooking. For exercise, a modern kid makes cupcakes.
No wonder they’re in such bad shape.
In a world where people in their 40s, 50s and 60s are being pushed aside by punks who tweet and Instagram and play on the Xbox, it’s nice to have something to hold over them.
We might be unable to differentiate between rap stars. We might not be able to use our smartphones to Skype with friends. We might be guilty of dropping Robert Blake catch phrases into a column 40 years after they were relevant.
But we were more fit!
On second thought, there is at least one thing in common between the TV my generation watched and that watched by today’s generation: Bruce Jenner. He was an athlete in the goofy competition shows and now he’s an honorary Kardashian.
As Tony Baretta says, you can take that to the bank!
Reach Brad Stanhope at 427-6958 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bradstanhope.