The pandemic and physical and cognitive abilities, returning to the case of children – Le Monde

The pandemic and physical and cognitive abilities, returning to the case of children – Le Monde

Ten thousand steps and more. The restrictions associated with the Covid-19 pandemic have primarily had an impact on the physical activity and level of sedentary lifestyle of the French, children and adolescents. However, being active is a protective factor against many chronic diseases and its benefits have been shown for the physical, mental and social health of young people, not to mention improving some cognitive performance and school learning. The public health agency Public Health France (SPF) launched a campaign on this topic at the beginning of September “Getting teenagers to move is not easy. But it is important to encourage them. »

Experts have been warning of an alarming situation for more than ten years, even before the health crisis. According to several studies, eight out of ten teenagers do not achieve the recommended level of physical activity. At the same time, sedentary time continues to grow due to the explosion of screen time. A noxious cocktail made worse by the pandemic.

“The numbers are catastrophic: cognitive abilities would drop by 40% in one year. ”, as stated in the article World of June 30, 2021, Martine Duclos, head of the sports medicine department of the Clermont-Ferrand University Hospital, based on the preliminary results of a study she was the coordinator of, carried out in Allier and Puy-de-Dome with 90 CE1 and CE2 children. This remarkable observation was widely accepted in the media and even among politicians at the time.

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However, when the study was published on October 22, 2021 International Journal of Environmental and Public Health, the end results, if they go in the same direction, are somewhat muted.

Physical capacities have significantly decreased, which is confirmed by the first data: endurance capacity (VO2 max) decreased in one year by 25%, motor skills (jumping, running, moving from one leg to another, etc.) by about 20%.

The decline in cognitive abilities is 25% in the publication and not 40% as advertised. “Remains clinically relevant”, Martine Duclos, also president of the scientific committee of the National Observatory of Physical Activity and Sedentary Lifestyle, answers us today. Moreover, while BMI increased by an average of two to three points in the preliminary data, the published study only increased by one point. The difference explained for the sports doctor and physiologist “high variability”.

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