Many children are sedentary and spend less time engaged in physical activity (e.g., playtime) as compared to previous generations. Instead they spend their free time watching television, using computers or tablets, and playing video games.
In addition, adolescents are drinking more soda (filled with calories and sugar) and eating less fruits and vegetables. Children and adolescents are also consuming too much sodium and do not meet guidelines for whole grain consumption. Whole grains, water, fruits and vegetables are being replaced with junk food, fast food and sodas, items laden with excess sugars, saturated fats, and calories.
Due to the alarming increase in childhood obesity, youth fitness guidelines have been developed promoting healthy lifestyles and increased physical activity. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, children should get 60 minutes (or more) of physical activity daily (5). Children should engage in aerobic, muscle-strengthening, and bone-strengthening activities daily to improve their health and reduce their risk of developing obesity and obesity-related diseases.
Why should children exercise? Here are the top 10 reasons why helping kids become active once again is worth the disruption to our adult lives:
- Children who are active 60 minutes per day demonstrate lower rates of obesity.
- Greater rates of activity in children have been associated with higher test scores in reading and math.
- Physical (body) and cognitive (brain) development go hand-in-hand. While this continues for life, this relationship is most critical at a young age. When kids are active, their brain develops, allowing for new types of activity.
- Play-based activity that requires a high degree of sensory input (sight, sound, touch, etc.) helps develop a broad array of skills that make physical activity more enjoyable later in life.
- Frequent physical activity has been associated with improved behavior in the classroom and beyond.
- It appears that active children are more likely to become active adults.
- Aerobic activity has been shown to increase the size of essential brain structures and number of neural connections.
- Frequent activities requiring a high degree of balance and coordination have been associated with improved emotional response.
- Frequent exercise decreases symptoms of depression and anxiety in children.
- Regular exercise with children promotes self-efficacy with regard to health and self-image.
As You can see there are many reasons why we should “devote” some of our time to organize some activities to our children. It will benefit them in many areas of life, and thanks to our engagement they could fully grow their potential.
Good luck and till next time.