Today’s youth are faced with a variety of problems that their parents didn’t have to deal with. Technology has increased inactivity, making playing video games and watching television preferable to playing outdoors. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that the rate of childhood obesity has tripled since 1980. Emphasizing the need for daily exercise to children not only helps them stay healthy, but can also promote good habits they can carry with them into their adult lives.
Combat childhood obesity. Along with a balanced diet, exercise can help ward off childhood obesity, an epidemic that affects nearly 17 percent of children and adolescents between ages 2 and 19 in the United States, according to the CDC. It recommends that children get at least 60 minutes of either aerobic, muscle strengthening or weight-bearing exercise per day. In addition to preventing obesity, exercise can also reduce the risk of diabetes and high blood pressure.
Develop good habits. The adage goes, “habits are hard to break.” This theory rings true when it comes to teaching children the importance of staying active. By emphasizing the health benefits of regular activity, through exercise or playtime, parents can condition kids to prioritize their health and reap the benefits as they age.
Easier bedtimes. Keeping kids active for an hour a day helps burn off their excess energy, making them sleepy just in time for bed. Children are naturally more energetic than adults, and exercise can help them expend some of that energy productively. Being active also promotes healthy sleeping habits and can encourage children to fall asleep sooner and faster than if they are primarily sedentary.
Build character. Children can often find a sense of self or identity when they explore different activities. Enrolling in exercise classes or physical extracurricular activities can not only keep a child active and physically healthy, but also can teach lessons on character like discipline and tenacity. Team sports can teach camaraderie, while individual sports can encourage a good work ethic.