Celebrate May as National Physical Fitness & Sports Month! Outdoor play and exercise used to be a natural part of every childhood. But with the temptations of electronics and video games, loving parents are challenged with getting kids outdoors, according to 39% of adults polled. It’s crucial to keep kids physically active and playing outside. With proper exercise, kids can have improved muscular fitness, better bone health and protection from heart disease.
Here are some of the proven benefits from studies around the world.
Lowered Risks of Metabolic Syndrome
Higher levels of muscular fitness in children results in lowered risks of metabolic syndrome as adults. Kids aged between 9 and 15 with the highest muscular fitness were 80% less likely to acquire metabolic syndrome later in life.
Prevent Childhood Obesity
The longer kids exercise, the more that childhood obesity can be completely prevented. In a study with 2,498 kids aged 8 to 17, those who exercised longer had a lower body mass index, and the inverse was true of kids who exercised for five minutes or less.
Protect Against Cardiovascular Problems
Higher aerobic exercise in childhood has been linked to more protection against cardiovascular disease in adulthood, according to a finding by researchers at the University of Georgia. Kids who engaged in aerobic exercise, like running and jumping, had a 36% decreased risk.
Better Arterial Health
High amounts of physical activity have been linked to better arterial health and less arterial stiffness in children aged between 6 and 8, according to a report conducted at the University of Easter Finland. The researchers concluded that light physical activity, such as walking, did not put sufficient strain on the arteries to prevent stiffness. Instead, moderate to vigorous exercise, such as that a child would get on a playground, resulted in the reduced stiffness.
Ideas to Celebrate National Physical Fitness & Sports Month
Here are some ideas to celebrate National Physical Fitness & Sports Month this May. Maybe one or two of them will fit in your schedule.
- Make a commitment to spending an hour at the local children’s playground at least twice a week.
- On the way home, stop off at your local playground for 15 minutes or so after each school day so your kids can get fresh air and sunshine, exercise and move their muscles after sitting in the classroom all afternoon.
- Choose a weekend to have lunch at the playground instead of at home.
- Offer to bring your child’s neighborhood friends with you and your children to the playground. Your example will help all the neighborhood kids to better appreciate outdoor exercise.
- Institute one night a week as "no-screens" night. Let kids find other ways to entertain themselves at home, such as playing tag or using the backyard swing set or jungle gym.
- Have play dates at the playground instead of at home, so the kids aren’t tempted to spend the time playing video games.
As you can see, childhood exercise is vital to lifelong health. When you encourage outdoor play, you’re helping to instill habits that will last years, long into adulthood. What better gift to offer your children?