Norwegians have become more sedentary in a relatively short space of time, Prof Dyrstad notes. "They sit still for longer periods and drive to get from one place to another.
"Since the 1990s, we see that youngsters in Norway who were previously outdoors in the afternoon are increasingly sitting in front of a computer.
"Since these activities appeal more to boys than to girls, the former are hardest hit by the wave of inactivity. That conforms with findings from other studies."
The two researchers believe that physical exercise has been downgraded in terms of the priority given to it by schools.
"The gymnastics timetable has been cut to the bone, and many schools offer physical activities which provide in reality too little motion," says Prof Tjelta. "Daily exercises with well-qualified teachers can be very important, and should accordingly be on school timetables right down to nursery level.
"Failure to do this will have a negative effect. The politicians must be willing to invest in physical education."
He points out that boys can easily take control of the choice of activities in the lesson if the teacher lacks the expertise needed to create a proper plan.
The danger is that girls then lose interest in the subject. Prof Tjelta hopes that more local authorities will give priority to providing continuing physical education classes.
Prof Dyrstad, who has worked as a PE teacher himself, believes that children and young people should have one hour of physical activity in every school day.
"Since it's the most sedentary who're the hardest to get involved in such activity, having professionally trained PE teachers in schools is important," he says.
Too much driving
The researchers urge parents to make a bigger commitment to getting their children to be physically active in t
|Contact: Leif Inge Tjelta|
University of Stavanger