An alarming 76% of children ages 6-17 do not meet the daily physical activity recommendations given by the Department of Health (CDC). Highlighting the importance of physical activity at an early age will encourage continued participation as an adult. As we know all too well, it’s hard to make a habit out of something you don’t like doing. This emphasizes why it is so pivotal for kids to engage in physical activity that they find fun and enjoyable.
Exercise for Healthy Hearts
Heart disease is often thought of as an adult’s issue. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics notes hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) has been found in children as young as 10. This shows how a heart-healthy future starts with the habits formed in childhood. Regular physical activity plays a large role in improved cardiovascular function and will help lower the risk of heart disease. Children will also learn heart-healthy behavior from their parents and family members. They are more likely to adopt a healthy lifestyle as they get older if they see how important eating well and exercising is to the adults in their life now.
Kid-Friendly Aerobic Exercise
Choose exercises that are fun and kid-friendly. Even if kids aren’t participating in organized sports, they can still get daily activity with active play. Involve the whole family with a neighborhood bike ride or a walk in the park, make rainy days fun with an indoor scavenger hunt, or create an obstacle course on the local playground. Play active video games or get up and move during commercial breaks. Teaching kids to participate in various activities will help them realize exercise can still be versatile and enjoyable when they’re adults.
Muscle & Bone Strengthening
A well-rounded exercise routine will consist of aerobic movements for heart health as well as muscle and bone-strengthening activities. Young kids don’t need to start pumping iron for stronger muscles and bones. Instead, consider participating in a variety of activities that will help promote strong muscles and solid bones. Climbing on playground equipment and playing games like tug-of-war are great strength-building activities. Incorporating higher impact activities like running, basketball, and jump rope are all ways to strengthen bones. The Department of Health recommends children ages 6-17 should participate in at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous aerobic exercise each day, along with muscle and bone-strengthening exercises incorporated into that 60 minutes at least three days per week.
Tomorrow’s health starts today. Teaching children that exercise can be fun will set them up with healthy habits for a lifetime.
Always consult with your physician before starting a new exercise program.
Written by BWS Lead Health Coach- Kelly Schlather, BS, ASCM – CEP