With out of control portion sizes, sugar consumption at an all time high, and fast food chains on every street corner, childhood obesity is quickly becoming an epidemic. According to the American Heart Association, among children age two to nineteen, 1 in 3 were overweight and obese in 2012. With physical education being phased out of schools and less and less activity at home, a need for the implementation of daily exercise and healthful eating habits has never been more apparent.
According to the Department of Health and Human Services (2008), children can achieve substantial health benefits by doing moderate and vigorous intensity exercise for periods adding up to sixty minutes a day at least 3 days per week. Aerobic activity is important but age appropriate weight training can also substantially benefit pre-adolescent and adolescent children because of the opportunity for significant gains in bone mass.
As long as children are supervised, trained in proper breathing techniques and stay hydrated they can safely and effectively engage in activities that illicit aerobic conditioning as well as place the required force to strengthen bone and muscle such as running, jumping rope, hopping and skipping. Exercise for kids can be more playful than structured including upper body training like climbing and tug of war.
Be sure to stress the importance of communication between the child and teacher, coach or parent letting them know to promptly speak up about any injury or fatiguing. The most important aspect of exercise for kids is fun! If they’re having fun they will be more likely to stay active throughout their childhood and beyond.