Japanese children's mobility likely affected by COVID restrictions, survey finds

A survey by Japanese experts has found that children in the country have shown signs of declining mobility likely caused by restricted activities during the pandemic.

The Japanese Clinical Orthopaedic Association conducted a survey of more than 12,200 patients who saw a doctor between July and August 2020 and their family members. The respondents included 820 school children.

The survey found that 10 percent of the children were having more difficulty walking up stairs. The figure was 13 percent for high school students, 11 percent for junior high school students, and 8 percent for elementary school students. Nine percent of the students said they were no longer able to walk quickly.

Eight percent of the high school students reported they were slipping more frequently. The figure was 5 percent for junior high and elementary school children.

Association officials say the children are showing early signs of locomotive syndrome, which normally affects adults in their 30s or older.

In the same survey, 55 percent of high school students and 44 percent of junior high school students said their physical strength had declined. This exceeds the overall average of 39 percent for all generations, including people in their 80s.

Nikaido Motoshige, a doctor who took part in the survey, says he is surprised that many children have shown early signs of locomotive syndrome.

He says children had fewer opportunities to exercise during the pandemic as club activities and sports events were canceled, and they probably spent more time using smartphones and playing computer games.