Toddlers often spend more time wobbling than walking or running, and their short legs may be the reason why, new research says.
Some experts believe that young children are clumsy because they simply haven’t developed yet, but a team of British researchers suspected there was a different reason.
Seeking to explain young children’s lack of grace, the researchers compared the movements of adults and 18 children who ranged in age from just over 1 year old to nearly 5 years old.
The researchers told the kids to walk with their parents. In some experiments the children were told to keep up, in others to go faster or to go slower than the adults. The researchers didn’t tell the study volunteers what type of gait to use.
Using a camera system, the researchers tracked movements of the children’s limbs and compared them to the adults’.
Unlike adults, children’s short legs don’t have enough time for their muscles to produce the power needed to lift them into the air when running, the researchers concluded.
The findings were published Sept. 23 in the Journal of Experimental Biology.
“You can see that by watching a 3-year-old running, they barely get off the ground,” study author Jim Usherwood, of the Royal Veterinary College in Hertfordshire, England, said in a journal news release.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers advice on children and physical activity.