Physical activity helps with weight management.
Regular physical activity is important for children for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the long-term health benefits. Physical activity also aids in maintaining a healthy weight.
In addition to long-term health benefits, children also benefit from keeping active.
Some of the additional benefits are:
• Decreases chance depression
• Helps with sleeping at night
• Strengthens bones and muscles
• Helps with maintaining a healthy weight
• Enjoying the ability to move easily.
Inactive children and young adults can show signs of:
• Heart disease
• Type 2 diabetes
• High blood pressure, and
• Increased chance of stroke
• The good news is that even a modest amount of physical activity is good for children’s health and the more active you are the more you will benefit.
How Children Become More Active
There are many popular activities that help children to get and remain active. Sports participation comes to mind as well as dance and gymnastics classes.
Schools that enjoy the benefit of a physical education instructor are at an advantage as physical activity minutes are often met or can occur in their daily physical education class. An additional benefit is that instruction they receive often results in underlying motor skill proficiency contributing to their success. They tend to increase their participation in sports teams; they gain the confidence to be active.
It is important to encourage young people to participate in physical activities that are appropriate for their age, that are enjoyable, and that offer variety.
Recess is another opportunity for physical activity at school. Typically children have been shown to be more active at recess than in physical education. However, this depends largely on the quality of physical education instruction that they receive.
Peer and sibling support, access to play spaces and equipment, as well as time spent outdoors also contribute to the physical activity.
Generally speaking, one of the best indicators of an active child is an active and supportive parent (although this does not hold true for all subgroups). When parents spend time in physical activity with children they not only gain skills and proficiency but generally acquire an understanding of the relationship between physical activity, good health, and well-being.
The Outdoor Environment
Access to facilities, programs and the outdoors is positively associated with children’s physical activity. Likewise, community sports participation and previous physical activity participation were found to correlate with active children and adolescents. Sedentary behavior was inversely related to physical activity.
Regular physical activity in children and adolescents promotes a healthy body weight and body composition.