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Athletic prowess fading for Okinawa youngsters

Date Posted: 2009-12-24

It used to be that Okinawan children fared poorly in scholastic testing across Japan, but did reasonably well on physical fitness aptitude tests.

The latest Nationwide Physical Exercise Test administered by the Ministry of Education has even turned that statistic around, with Okinawa kids now ranking 30th among the 47 prefectures in physical fitness. The only seemingly bright spot was boys ranking 22nd. The Ministry administered the examination to 11~14-year-old youngsters across Japan, including Tokyo, Hokkaido, Kyoto and Osaka.

The statistics and research showed how often children participated in physical exercise, and surprisingly, it turns out many Okinawan children don’t even bother to exercise. The only exceptions were those who actively participate in the three most popular sports of baseball, softball and handball. Those kids exercised and trained two hours per day, putting them in good physical shape.

Okinawa’s youngsters ranked inside the dreaded top ten in the statistic ‘Most Overweight’. Most children said they didn’t eat breakfast, lived in unstable family environments, stayed up late and did not go to bed early. The Ministry of Education, in evaluating the Okinawa situation, says the entire issue is a problem of basic life style, with families needing to live more stable lives.

The Ministry says students who tested well physically also tended to demonstrate higher scholastic ability. Ministry officials say they don’t understand why Okinawan kids stay up late, and why many don’t eat breakfast, saying only it tells there’s a need to reform adult and parental life styles.

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