No school and no sport for over a year. Confined whole days in the bedrooms, sitting in front of the computer, the pandemic has left a heavy bill for children and adolescents: irritable, often in a black mood and overweight, and some even with ailments never had before. According to an investigation by Ipsos (“The impact of Covid on sport“) Commissioned by the Sports Department and created with the collaboration of the National Institute for Infectious Diseases of Spallanzani, the Gemelli Polyclinic in Rome and the Bambino Gesù Pediatric Hospital, the slowdown and suspension of motor activities due to the pandemic especially an increase in appetite and weight in more than one in 3 children and in 43% of boys. But not only.
The data collected by the experts highlighted a profound state of malaise: starting with exhaustion, which increases significantly with age (26% among 6-10 year olds, 37% of 11-13 year olds, 42% of 14-16 year olds and more than one in 2 among those aged between 17 and 19 years). Sleep disorders also increase (28% of children and 37% of boys), but also stomach pain (17% and 16%), muscle pain (16% vs 31%) and headache (14% vs 20%). Physical inactivity also affected mood. Feelings of sadness (55% among children and 69% among boys), apathy (53% and 58% respectively), short temper (almost half of children and four out of ten boys) and states of anxiety (37%) are not uncommon. between 6-10 years old, 45% 11-13 year olds, 52% 14-16 year olds and 60% of 17-19 year olds). With increasing age, the sense of concern for the future also grows. “The anxiety signals – reads the survey – reach significant levels in the subjective perception of many very young people, who recognize that they have signals such as tension, irritability or imagine terrible future scenarios, especially between 17 and 19 years (35-40 %), with a preponderance of girls over boys of at least 7 percentage points ».
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In fact, in the pediatric age, as explained by Annamaria Staiano, new president of the Italian Society of Pediatrics, “the manifestations of covid infection have been few, while the indirect effects for the social isolation of children and adolescents have been devastating. We have observed behavioral problems that have resulted in psychiatric manifestations. The number of extreme gestures by adolescents has also increased ». The lack of sport has led to imbalances on several fronts. «The lockdown – continues Staiano – has led to an alteration of a lifestyle which, to be correct, is based on three main elements: nutrition, physical activity and an appropriate sleep duration.
Let’s not forget that physical activity during the pandemic has ceased due to the inability to access places where sport takes place, such as gyms or swimming pools or tennis courts. But outdoor motor activity was also limited. For many young people it was not even possible to go down to the backyards or ride a bicycle. If we think that physical activity recommended for children of all ages is at least 60 minutes a day, we can imagine how this deprivation has clearly contributed to creating further negative conditions ».
INCENTIVES COMING SOON
In the meantime, to encourage sport also for the little ones, the government is already thinking about new support measures. The survey data, in fact remarked the undersecretary with responsibility for Sport, Valentina Vezzali, “there must be a stimulus and the government is fielding a real” firepower “in terms of initiatives, projects, measures, economic interventions and above all concrete acts “.
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