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The Importance of Exercise for Kids

By: Elizabeth Grace - Updated: 27 Jul 2010 | comments*Discuss
Exercise For Kids Childhood Obesity

Most adults find that they feel better when they get regular exercise. Sedentary habits are not only unhealthy, but can make us feel slow and sluggish in the short term. Kids need exercise too, in order to feel healthy and energetic, as well as to grow and develop to their highest potential.

Establishing Healthy Habits

Habits established in childhood often stay with people throughout their lives. If for no other reason than this, parents owe it to their children to help them develop healthy routines and active lifestyles. Studies show that overweight, inactive kids are likely to remain overweight as adults, with the weight problem often worsening over time. Carrying extra weight puts kids at risk for a number of health problems, including hypertension (high blood pressure), heart disease, diabetes, and even some types of cancer. Parents offer their children enormous gifts when they teach them to love sports and other physical activities, starting them on paths to healthier lives.

Physical and Emotional Well-Being

Regular exercise improves balance, increases coordination, builds strength, and improves overall health. Most people are aware of the physical benefits of activity, but the rewards do not end there. Physical activity helps to relieve stress, decreases anxiety, and helps to ward off depression. Children who are allowed outlets for their natural energies are more capable of controlling their behaviour in school and often excel academically when compared to their more sedentary peers. Even young children show better self control when they are afforded opportunities for active play, and this connection between activity and emotional health remains all throughout life. While a limited amount of time spent watching television or playing video games isn't necessarily harmful for children, the majority of their pastimes should be activity based.

Opportunities for Socialisation

In addition to benefiting their physical and emotional health, participation in sports and other active games allows kids healthy social interaction with peers, helping them to develop friendships. Much learning occurs during childhood, and learning how to interact with others in positive ways is a very important lesson. Kids who are secluded in their homes watching videos or playing computer games miss many opportunities to hone their social skills, putting them at a disadvantage when compared to children who participate in team activities.

Turning the Trend

Today's kids have a higher obesity rate than ever before. Childhood obesity is considered a major threat to the health and well being of an entire generation of children, the first in recorded history to have a lower life expectancy than that of their parents. Illnesses that were once seen almost exclusively in the adult population, such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes, are now being reported by pediatricians worldwide. This trend toward lifestyle induced illness amongst children is a frightening one, but it could be easily turned around. Parents have a responsibility to see that their children eat healthy diets and get sufficient exercise. Playing together, scheduling active family outings and holidays, and setting a good example by choosing to make physical fitness a family priority are all decisions that can help kids to get healthy and stay healthy - all throughout their lives.

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