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 beep.
WATCH | 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.
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)
Whoa, that's a lot of first-world countries at the bottom... and the top?
The relationship between wealth and health is complicated, Lang said. In developed countries, fitness improves when other socioeconomic factors improve. In developing countries, the opposite effect happens.
He writes that as developing countries no longer need to spend lots of energy just to find food or commute, kids get less fit. But with more disposable income and leisure time, some nations can focus on keeping kids healthy.
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.