Kids and Exercise

The Benefits go Beyond Better Health

Kids and Exercise - seems like a silly subject 20 years ago but now with schools reducing physical education requirements and the advent of computer video games, exercise is not a natural part of kids lives anymore.

When I was growing up, it was normal to hurry and eat breakfast so we could go out and play and keep playing until Mom called us back in to eat lunch or dinner. It wasn't exercise or a workout like I have to try and fit in to my schedule now, it was just playing and having fun. But you know it really was a lot of exercise riding bikes, hiking up the hill or playing ball with friends.

Today, child obesity is on the rise and most kids spend a lot more time in front of the computer or TV than they spend outside playing and engaging in physical activity.

It is important that we as parents work to get our kids doing more physical activity. It will benefit them in so many ways now and in their lives as adults.

Health Benefits of Exercise for Kids

There is no argument that kids and exercise go together. It is a critical part of their health and wellness. But I doubt if there is much argument that kids today are getting enough.

Research shows that less than 30% of school age kids get even 20 minutes of exercise each day. This is just another example of the steady decline of the health of the American people. Lack of exercise can lead to a multitude of health problems.

On the other hand, regular exercise can benefit a child's health in the short and long term. Some of the benefits of getting kids to exercise include:

  • Reduced Risk of Diabetes
  • Stronger Bones
  • Better Sleep
  • Reduced Hyperactivity (can help with ADHD)
  • Weight Loss
  • Better Moods
  • Better Immune System Functioning
  • Improved Energy Levels

Exercise Can Improve Brain Function

A current review of several studies on the effects of exercise and brain function shows that the more active students are, the better they do academically.

According to the authors of the review,

"...there is a strong belief that regular participation in physical activity is linked to enhancement of brain function and cognition, thereby positively influencing academic performance." (Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine January 2012;166(1):49-55)

Exercise causes nerve cells to multiply and strengthen interconnections which can help the brain to work better. Studies done on animals show that exercise releases proteins that promote the health of the brain and improve how it functions. Exercise also creates better blood flow to the brain and increases the survival of brain neurons.

Ways to get Kids to Exercise

The best way to get kids up and moving is to limit the amount of time they get to spend watching TV, playing video games or using the computer. Encourage them to go outside and play.

Exercise routines and workouts at the gym are not necessary. Just riding their bike with their siblings or friends, playing with the dog and playing chase or tag are more than enough to get the exercise they need. Short bursts of activity spread throughout the day will work just fine.

Remember, as a parent you are the role model. Kids learn what they see and hear everyday. So one of the best ways to get your kids active is to be active yourself. Make exercise and being active an important part of your life. The bonus is you get the added health benefits of being healthy yourself!

And its not hard to plan some family activities that let you spend time with your kids and get the whole family up and moving. You can go hiking, biking, swimming or just go to the park and play Frisbee or climb the monkey bars.

By getting your kids having fun and leaning how to exercise now, you will be giving them the gift of good exercise habits that will benefit them throughout their lives. And isn't that what being a parent is all about. Raising happy and healthy kids who can turn around and do the same for their kids.

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