About Our People Legal Stuff
Zanzibari children play football on a beach facing the Indian Ocean at Matemwe village, northeastern Zanzibar, Tanzania, Monday, Jan. 26, 2015. (AP Photo/Mosa'ab Elshamy)

A new study shows Tanzanian kids are the fittest in the world. US kids aren't even close.


America, drop and give me 20.

A study recently published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that Tanzanian kids were among the fittest in the world, while American kids were among the least fit.

This is all based on one exercise: the "shuttle run," in which kids run 20-meter sprints back and forth at increasingly fast pace. You might know it as the "beep test," since the goal is to make it to the goal before a pre-recorded beep.

NFL Scouting Combine Shuttle Run Drill

For all you visual learners out there, here's a shuttle run, as performed by football players hoping to go pro in 2009.

Kids who are aerobically fit tend to be healthy, and healthy kids are apt to be healthy adults.
Justin Lang, lead study author

So that one thing shows how healthy I am?

It seems pretty limited, but the study's authors argue the shuttle run is a good predictor of aerobic health, which is a good predictor of overall health later in life.

Show me the top 5 and bottom 5.

The 5 countries that did the best:

  • Tanzania (97th percentile)
  • Iceland (93rd percentile)
  • Estonia (92)
  • Norway (87)
  • Japan (84)

The bottom 5:

  • South Korea (35)
  • United States (32)
  • Latvia (26)
  • Peru (25)
  • Mexico (17)

Quartz has the full list.

So what's the best predictor of health?

Income equality. Nations with very high income inequality (like South American countries) tended to score very poorly. 

"Poverty is linked to bad health outcomes, one of which is aerobic fitness," Lang wrote.

Read Comments
Facebook Twitter Instagram Pinterest Linked In List Menu Enlarge Gallery Info Menu Close Angle Down Angle Up Angle Left Angle Right Grid Grid Play Align Left Search Youtube Mail Mail Angle Down Bookmark