Today’s kids aren’t getting as much exercise as they should due to all of the various indoor distractions that are all too readily available to them. Video games, smart phones, television, iPads, and various other electronic gizmos and gadgets are all at arm’s length, but unfortunately, those distractions can have a significantly negative impact on children’s health.
Too much time spent perched on the couch can contribute to high cholesterol, heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Long bouts of inactivity can also be detrimental to the proper development of bone and muscle, diminished ocular function, even poor posture and contribute to lower self-esteem and overall confidence.
All of these things can be avoided by getting kids to embrace physical fitness. Easier said than done, I realize, but it’s important to inspire and motivate kids to become active in order to keep them healthy and happy. There can still be time for video games and television but physical activity needs to come first.
Recommended Activity Routines
According to the American Heart Association, children from the age of two years and up should participate in some form of physical activity for up to 60 minutes a day. How that time is spent is up to you and your child, it can be done all at once or in timed intervals. But that one hour of active time is important and it can make a big difference in your child through the cardiovascular and emotional benefits that it can provide. So exercise as a family or arrange a time each day that your child is expected to turn off the electronic devices and go outside to play.
The Long Term Benefits
Exercise has many advantageous benefits for children to make them feel and perform better both in and out of the classroom. Routine physical activity can actually help to make children calm and relaxed, allowing them to focus in school and reduce negative and risky behavioral patterns.
The physical benefits are also plentiful; the routine activity can lower the chances of obesity and Type 2 diabetes in your child. These are both the leading causes of health problems in kids and teens with an increase of 30% and 21% respectively in young people over the past 15 years. Both are dangerous to kids, putting undue pressure and stress on young hearts which can become damaged over time.
Promoting Physical Activity
The problem is much larger than just getting kids to turn off the PlayStation and go outside. Schools all across the country have a role to play as well and they’re missing the mark substantially. In the United States, 20% of our elementary schools have drastically lowered or completely eliminated physical education programs entirely. Only 8% of elementary schools offer some kind of daily physical education curriculum to children with just 6% of middle and high schools providing a similar program. This puts the onus on parents to make sure that kids are getting their 60 minutes of playtime a day and that’s not always so easy to accomplish.
Since physical fitness is important for the health and well-being of children and teens, we have some tips to help parents to pick up the slack left by schools that don’t offer physical education programs. These activities can be part of a well-rounded agenda for promoting strength, endurance, and flexibility in a child to encourage better health habits and stress the importance of physical fitness and its lasting effects.
Activities that can help increase the strength in the child include doing chores that involve lifting and carrying items of various weights, from taking in the groceries to taking out the garbage. Playgrounds offer a lot of ways to build strength from playing on the monkey bars to climbing ladders and jungle gyms. Simple exercises are also good, such as push-ups and sit-ups.
This is about putting an emphasis on aerobic activities like jogging, skateboarding, swimming, and organized teams sports like football, soccer, basketball, lacrosse, and hockey. Running is a big part of endurance because it trains the heart and lungs. You can make it a game. Have your child track his or her steps each day. Explore the top activity trackers for children and buy your child a device that is easy to read and use.
Exercises such as skipping, playing on the playground or beach, raking leaves, even some light yoga will promote effective flexibility of muscles and joints. This can also lead to better posture and less stiffness or soreness in the back and legs. You may notice your child is more relaxed and clear-headed after participating in these types of activities.