Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Wondering Just How Much Physical Activity Our Children Should Be Getting And Why It's So Important?



Here are some of the alarming stats:

  • There are over 200 million children around the world that are overweight
  • Over 75% of children do not reach the minimum requirements for physical activity
    • In fact, I've even read some sources that say less than 10% get the recommend amounts
  • The average child spends 7.5 hours each and every day in front of a screen (TV, tablet, video games, etc.)
So, clearly there are frightening trends developing worldwide. We have a serious impact on how our children will develop. For instance, when both parents are obese there is an 80% chance the child will also become obese; conversely, there is only a 10% chance for the child to become obese when both parents are lean.

Further evidence is shown that when a mother is active, there is a two-fold the child will also be active; there is a three-fold chance of being active when the father is active; and a six-fold chance when both parents are active. 



We as parents, or guardians, have a real important role to play.

This occurs through role modelling, fostering a shared love for physical activity, and an increased access to such resources.

As well, children are much more moldable and capable of shaping behavior into better patterns than adults, making this a great place for intervention. Also, children height-growth potential, which means that if weight (or other factors) fluctuate due to external influences, they have the ability to return "back on track" without adverse effects.


So what things can we do?

  1. We have to remove, or limit, influences that increase sedentary behavior. This includes TV, video games, etc.
  2. Physical activity needs to be promoted. This is very important at school, although you don't have a significant direct influence on this, but also at home with the family (or friends).
  3. Help make your community more friendly to incorporating physical activity.
    • Check out Dave Kittner (aka Youth Fitness Guy) and his Fun At One.

Finally, how much physical activity should children get?

Fortunately, there are numerous organizations that are heavily invested in this, such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and ParticipACTION; however, their recommendations are quite similar.

  • Early Year (0-4 years)
    • Infants (less than 1 year)
      • Interactive floor-based play such as tummy time
    • Toddlers (1-2 years) and Preschoolers (3-4 years)
      • 180 minutes/day of crawling, creeping, walking, and exploring the environment
  • Children (5-11 years)
    • 60 minutes/day of running, biking, swimming
    • Incorporating vigorous intensity aerobic activities 3x week, and activities that strengthen the muscles and bones 3x week
  • Youth (12-17 years)
    • 60 minutes/day of basketball, skateboarding, martial arts
    • Incorporating vigorous intensity aerobic activities 3x week, and activities that strengthen the muscles and bones 3x week
  • Adults (18-64 years)
    • 150 minutes/week of running in clubs, biking to work, walks after dinner and in bouts of at least 10 or more minutes
    • Incorporating vigorous intensity aerobic activities 2x week, and activities that strengthen the muscles and bones 2x week
  • Older Adults (65+ years)
    • 150 minutes/week of dance classes, bowling leagues, or walks in the park and in bouts of at least 10 or more minutes
    • Activities to increase balance to reduce fall
For further information you can check out ParticipACTION's website directly.

For more information you can check out my previous entries:

Benefits Of Physical Activity
http://softballphysicalactivityandhealth.blogspot.ca/2014/04/unplugandplay-benefits-of-being-more.html

How To Remain Active At Work
http://softballphysicalactivityandhealth.blogspot.ca/2014/04/back-to-work-how-to-remain-active.html