We know that for adults, the benefits of being physically active are myriad.
Reducing the risks of heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, and obesity are worthy goals we should strive for. But how often do we think of these health concerns when it comes to our kids? They’re just kids, right?
When was the last time your kids exercised for an hour every day during the week? According to the US Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, this is the recommended amount of physical activity for children and youth.*
However, statistics show that a large majority (more than two-thirds) of children and adolescents don’t meet this standard. And with so many of us still (hopefully) trying to limit our interactions with others to slow the spread, it’s likely your child or teen is spending a larger amount of time in front of a screen. So how do we change this statistic?
Although it’s typical that physical activity tends to decrease with age, developing an active lifestyle while young will likely influence activity levels into adulthood. For instance, if you used to run half-marathons as a teen, the idea of running a half-marathon now – as an adult – wouldn’t be as jarring as if you had never done that at all.
Studies show that there are several factors that can help increase physical activity in children. The first factor is the parents’ activity level. Simply put, active parent = active child. This is relevant for adults who don’t have their own kids, but have nephews, nieces, or kids they mentor. An adult’s level of activity can help foster the activity levels of the children they influence.
Another factor is getting children involved in a rec league or team sport. While you may not be able to do this in person, depending upon your location and current mandates, there are virtual options. By adding these into a child’s weekly schedule, each extra hour per week of practice, games, meets, etc., adds nearly 10 minutes to the average daily physical activity for the child. They’ll never have time for exercise if it’s never scheduled to begin with. (This tactic works for adults, too, by the way.)
This much is true: being physically active while younger will affect the health of a child as they grow into an adult. So whether you have children of your own or children you are connected to, your level of activity can help contribute to building a habit of physical activity which will carry on into adulthood. Here’s to building our health, and our children’s, for the future!
“Physical Activity Facts.” Centers For Disease Control and Prevention*, 6.28.2017, http://bit.ly/2muNrvY.