Children Are Meant to Move!!!
By Rosemary Hohl-Chriswisser, MS
Rosemary has been working the fitness industry since 1986 and holds a true passion for the field. She particularly enjoys endurance events of various triathlon and running distances. She loves living a healthy, fit life and is a role model, inspiring others to reach for new heights in their fitness. In addition to being a fitness professional, Rosemary is a dedicated parent and takes a special interest in nurturing healthy habits in children. One of Rosemary’s favorite projects is Inspire Kids to Tri which will be held in Cedar Park, Texas August 25th, 2013.
Regular physical activity is important to people of all ages. Over the years we have seen a steady increase in adult obesity, and now we are witnessing the same within our youth population. Research shows that physical activity offers children not only physical but also intellectual and emotional benefits. Conversely, an early lifestyle lacking in regular physical activity can result in health problems that can last a lifetime.
One of the major problems in society today is that children are allowed to spend too much time being physically inactive watching TV, playing video games, or on the computer. This has lead to children becoming out of shape and over weight. Carrying excess body fat at an early age is not only unhealthy, but can also contribute to the social and emotional stress of a child. Statistically, physically active children are less over weight. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that children spend no more than two hours a day doing these non-academic, sedentary activities. They further recommend that children participate in sixty minutes or more of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily. This activity can be done all at once or spread throughout the day. Their exercise should be safe and appropriate for their developmental age and should include cardiovascular and muscle strengthening activities.
Research has shown the following benefits of regular physical activity:
- Stronger bones
- Stronger muscles
- Improved posture
- Improved and maintained flexibility
- Increased metabolism
- Controlled body weight and body fat composition
- Improved blood pressure
- Decreased incidence of cancer
- Decreased risk of metabolic syndrome
- Improved insulin sensitivity and glycemic control in diabetes
- Improved stamina
- Decreased symptoms of anxiety and depression
- Improved self esteem
- Improved outlook on life
- Improved grades and standardized test scores
- Improved school attendance
- Improved mood states
Research also documents the detrimental effects of a sedentary lifestyle:
- Muscle weakness and loss of lean muscle tissue
- Increased incidence of poor posture
- Decreased stamina
- Increased incidence of injury
- Increased incidence of both childhood and adult obesity
- Increased incidence of type II diabetes
- Increased incidence of depression
- Decreased attention span
The data makes it clear that physical activity started at an early age has life-long and sustainable benefits. Our bodies are the sum of our habits, and they are meant to move. Children must be raised in an environment that encourages them to be physically active and educated about the detriments of physical inactivity. Studies support the fact that children raised in such an environment have improved self-efficacy and have an increased probability of remaining active throughout adulthood. The benefits of physical activity are maximized by starting early, so parents should not only provide their children with impetus and opportunity, they should lead by example.