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How We Became a Sedentary Society

“There’s been a dramatic shift in culture, there’s no question about that...we’ve gone to a tremendously automated society.” Dr. Adewale Troutman, former Director of Public Health for the city of Louisville, Ky.

The Good Old Days Were Less Passive

Our increased dependence on technology and automation has decreased the physical effort it takes for us to do things like travel, shop, prepare food and go about our daily lives.

We often forget that we can walk instead of drive; make a meal out of whole, natural ingredients instead of buying packaged, prepared foods; and play an active game rather than watch a movie about active people. All of these changes impact all of us, especially our children.

Past generations played outdoors and needed minimal direction to be physically active for many hours of the day. Classic, spontaneous games like hopscotch, jump-rope and kickball are less-than-common forms of entertainment with today’s youth. In addition, parents today are often more concerned about safety and are less inclined to send their kids outside to play or ride bikes without adult supervision.

Natural Opportunities Missed

Children today are less connected to nature and to the outdoors. With electronic media and games taking up much of children’s free time, they are less likely to be outside. In the past, kids walked to school and had more outdoor play time during school. Today, schools have shortened recess and physical education to increase time on meeting curriculum requirements.

It will take everyone — policy makers, educators, business owners, parents, and kids — all working together to develop solutions to increase the physical opportunities for Kentucky’s children. Small, consistent changes in the way we eat, the way we move and the way we live can have lasting and significant benefits for us all.

“There’s something for the community to do. There’s something for the schools to do. There’s something for the parents and the family unit to do, and there’s also a role for the health care provider in this effort, that is going to take all of us pulling in the same direction.” Dr. Chris Bolling, Pediatrician, Edgewood, Ky.

Additional Information

Interested in ideas about getting kids active in their natural environments? Find out more about No Child Left Inside.

For curriculum ideas to get kids active and healthy, check out We Can! (Ways to Enhance Children's Activity and Nutrition).

Contact local officials about making your neighborhood streets more walkable, or to discuss other policy ideas to increase opportunities for physical activity in your community.