My good friend recently sent me an interesting Runners World article on how much athletes run during different sports events. According to the article, the amount of distance run per game varies widely, as you can see from the totals below:
Baseball: 0.046 miles
Football: 1.25 miles for receivers and cornerbacks
Basketball: 2.9 miles
Tennis: 3 miles
Field Hockey: 5.6 miles
Soccer: 7 miles
This made me wonder about the activity recreational athletes get during games and practices, so I did a little additional research.
- For every hour of game play or practice time, girls in Australia spent only 20 minutes in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA). In other words, one hour spent practicing or competing in organized sports (such as soccer and basketball) produces only one third of the recommended 60 min of MVPA and approximately one quarter of the recommended 12,000 steps that girls need to be sufficiently physically active for health. The rest of the time during games and practices is spent in sedentary or light physical activity.
- Similarly, amongst children participating in a 50 minute soccer match, about 49% of the match time is spent in sedentary activity (~25 min), while 33% of the match (~17 min) in spent in MVPA. Participants who are overweight/obese spend less time in MVPA and more time sitting or standing.
- Likewise, in a 20 minute simulated basketball game, researchers found that adult players spent 34.1% of play time running and jumping, 56.8% walking, and 9.0% standing.
Don’t get me wrong: there are many social, psychological and physical benefits of organized sports for children and adults. However, with over 45 million children and adolescents currently playing organized sports, it is important that families recognize the limitations of these activities in helping youth meet physical activity recommendations. Moreover, there are substantial gender differences in sports participation. According to the American Time Use Survey, females comprise “51% of exercise (i.e., non-competitive) participations, 24% of total sports participations, and 20% of team sports participations.” Similarly, women account for only 26% of registrations in intramural collegiate sports. In other words, men are far more likely than women to engage in organized sports and competitions, suggesting they could be at risk for falling short of physical activity recommendations despite being involved in athletics. The take-home message? Organized sports are great, but may not be enough when it comes to exercise, health and disease prevention.