Obesity in the United States is a big issue. The amount of obese people is much greater today than it was only 30 years ago. For children, it’s the same. Between the years 1976-1980 and 2007-2008 obesity in preschool aged children went from 5% to 10%. During that same time span, the rate for 6 to 11 year old children went from 6.5% to 19.6%. And the rate increased in children aged 12 to 19 from 5% to 18.1%. That’s quite a jump. Entertainment is a lot different now than it was back in the 1970s and 1980s. Computers, gaming systems, and cell phones are the popular entertainment options for children now. In earlier times, it was popular to ride bicycles with friends, run around in the school playground, and play games of tag. Children today are not reaping all of the health benefits they could get from exercise. And there are loads of health benefits of exercise for children.
There are many ways that children can increase their strength ability. They don’t have to spend time in the gym. They can gain more strength by playing on a jungle gym at the park, climbing trees, performing headstands, or wrestling with friends. Increasing their strength through exercise (even playful exercise), will help speed up their metabolism, and tone their muscles.
The more aerobic activity a child gets, the more endurance they’ll gain. Fun ways to gain endurance as a child include swimming, basketball, bicycling, or running. Running in a game of tag is a great way to increase a child’s endurance. If the chaser gets close, the child being chased can give a burst of speed to get away. These “bursts” can become easier the more they’re performed. Having a large amount of endurance can result in an increased amount of energy. The more energy a child has, the more activities they’ll be able to do. If children have a high amount of endurance, they’ll actually seek out ways to actively use that stored energy.
Having muscles that are flexible as a child is very important. By stretching every muscle in the body, children will have a better range of motion in their joints. If the muscles are not stretched, it may be difficult to do everyday activities, like tying one’s shoes. If they engage in active play, this will help the muscles stay limber, and become more flexible.
These are just a few ways a child can stay active. By staying active, children can decrease their level of stress. They will feel more confident about themselves. Exercising can lead to a better attention span, resulting in better performance at school. A healthy weight is maintained when a child exercises on a regular basis. Because children are exerting themselves during the day by exercising, they’ll be able to fall asleep faster, and have a better quality of sleep.
Many childhood diseases brought on by obesity can be avoided when children engage in everyday exercise. Plus, children who exercise regularly, will be less likely to develop health problems later in life. Children who are obese are at risk for high cholesterol, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease. These diseases and conditions can be avoided when a child gets only one hour of physical activity each day. Parents should encourage their children to get outside and find an activity they enjoy. Invest in a bicycle for your child (and for you), and offer to go on a bike ride to the park. If you teach them about the health benefits of exercise for children, they’ll thank you for it.
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