Recent reports have revealed that 60 minutes of moderate physical activity daily for most children are beneficial. Walking, bicycling, skipping, dancing, swimming and playing are all good ways for children to be active and promote general childhood fitness.
Because children grow at different rates at different times, it’s not always easy to tell if a child is overweight. For example, it is normal for boys to have a growth spurt in weight and catch up in height later. A sedentary lifestyle in young people can have negative health consequences both now and later.
Weight control: Increasing physical activity helps children’s weight. The constant high energy activities will naturally be beneficial to their overall fitness.
The need for obesity interventions is clear. Overweight children are at increased risk of many health problems, including hypertension, type 2 diabetes, respiratory and orthopaedic problems. Self-esteem and socialisation frequently suffer. And that is just the beginning. Not only does obesity follow children into adulthood–40% of overweight children and 70% of overweight adolescents become obese adults–obesity in adolescence is independently associated with chronic diseases that develop in adulthood. Therefore by getting children involved with fun activities they enjoy from an early age will really benefit them long term.
Bone building: Physical activity in childhood may have lasting effects on bone development. Exercise may lower osteoporosis risk by increasing bone mineral density. Though most attention has focused on exercise in later years to reduce or restore bone loss, the skeleton appears to be most responsive to the effects of activity during growth.
Cardiovascular protection: While cardiovascular disease is primarily manifested in adulthood, risk factors appear much earlier in life and typically persist. A substantial body of research documents the positive effect of physical activity, particularly at aerobic levels, on cardiovascular risk factors in adults, but the evidence for children is more limited. However, training the heart and lungs like any other muscle group, if done correctly, can never be a bad thing.
Mental health benefits: Exercise has a beneficial effect on mental health for children as well as adults. For example, some studies have documented improvements in depressive and anxiety symptoms. Exercise and general well being has helped to improve children’s physical self-image and general self-worth, perfect for helping children be more confident, fitter, more healthy and happy individuals.