Frank Salvatore
Health and Lifestyle

How Physical Activity Benefits Children

September 1, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Our bodies were designed to move and therefore need to be exercised in order to maintain proper health. Due to the increase of technology over the recent years, however, the activity levels of people have declined and life has become more sedentary. The excessive sitting of Americans increases the rate of heart disease, metabolic disease, and other secondary diseases. Unfortunately, this is beginning to affect our children as the rates in childhood obesity are on the rise as well. This is not only due to a sedentary lifestyle, but also poor food choices and lack of sleep.

Small Lifestyle Changes Can Help

While playing outside with friends used to be the norm for children, the activity has become outdated. Studies show that since children are spending more time sitting, they can actually benefit from short bursts of high intensity exercise that will fit into their lifestyle.

Studies have shown positive results in children who perform three 20-minute high intensity exercise each week for 10 weeks. The benefits included reduced waist circumference and lower triglyceride levels, which lower the chances of metabolic syndrome development. The study also showed that children who begin doing physical activity tend to continue to do so for even longer than necessary, suggesting increased structured exercise carries over into a child’s free time.

Finding Fun Exercise

In order for exercise to be practical and sustainable for children, it needs to be fun. Finding exercises children enjoy may be the key to encouraging them to get moving. However, with children sitting down at school all day, it is difficult to get these activities in. For this reason, it is important to urge children to stay physically active during school hours.

Consider working out with your children after school doing high intensity intervals of running, biking, lifting weights, or dancing. After exercising, spend time teaching your children how to stretch and cool down.

Junk Food

Food manufacturers spend a lot of time and money trying to sell people their processed foods that offer little to no nutritional value. Executives at food companies are aware of the growing obesity epidemic and people’s awareness of the harmful effects of junk food. For this reason, they have to try even harder to market and sell their products.

Junk Food Diet vs. Tobacco’s Impact on Children

Over the past three decades, advertisements for cigarettes aimed toward children have stopped, due to the fact that people believed it was urging children to smoke. Junk food, however, is still marketed towards children and also has very harmful effects on health that rival the effects of cigarettes.

CEOs in food companies have been in battles over the controversy. While some food companies want to start focusing more on health, others want to focus on taste since that is what brings in the money. Some companies, however, continue to fight for healthier foods to sell to children.

Parents Deceived by Marketing Ploys

Parents should monitor and guide their children’s diets, but it can be challenging when marketing is misleading. Some junk food ads make their products appear to be healthy, when in fact they are not. Companies use an approach to their advertising that targets both parents and children. When marketing towards parents, they focus on health benefits and nutrition, and when marketing to children, they focus on humor.

It is important to remember that processed foods are marketed, and real, whole food is typically not. Your refrigerator should be full of real, single ingredient foods, that close to their natural state.

Proper Diet and Sleep Affect Exercise

Overall health is comprised of nutrition, toxin exposure, sleep, motivation, exercise, hormones, vitamins, enzymes, and neurological connections. With all of these added together, your health depends on your lifestyle choices. The more your exercise, the easier it becomes. The more junk food you eat, the more you will crave. The more sleep you get, the more you will need.

With quality food and sufficient sleep, children are likely to experience better health, more motivation to exercise, more energy, and a better mood. Sleep deprivation leads to poor cognitive performance, a higher appetite, and depression.

Exercise Improves Cognition

If a child is physically active, he or she is more likely to perform better in school than if they are sedentary. There are several reasons why this may be true, and researchers are still trying to get to the bottom of it. Improved cognition may be due to reduced stress, increased blood flow to the brain, improved mood, increased levels of norepinephrine and endorphins, or an increase in nerve cell growth.

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Frank Salvatore