The Importance of Physical Fitness in Children
Spring has come and there’s no better time for children and adolescents to get involved in physical activities. Nowadays, there is a significant number of activities and sports in which a child can participate. I always like to stress to parents that the most important element concerning activities is that the activity be fun and enjoyable to children and adolescents if they are to develop long-term interest.
There are several benefits that come from frequent physical activity. One of the most important is that children develop healthy muscles, bones and joints. Play time has always been an important part of every child’s life. It is through the jumping, running, pulling and grabbing that the body starts and maintains its development. Another benefit of being physically active is the maintenance of an appropriate body weight. Once physical activities become a regular part of a child’s life, the reduction of body fat will occur naturally. Also, in the long term, children will have lower cholesterol levels and diminished risks of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart problems.
Another significant impact of physical activity is found in the child’s behavior. Adequate exercise during the day will help take care of natural hyperactivity and provide a good night sleep. Children who tend to be more physically active generally handle physical and emotional challenges better than those who aren’t active. In adolescents, regular exercise can help treat anxiety and depression.
Organized sports have yet another benefit, which is that children can make new friends, and learn about teamwork, perseverance, endurance, determination and achieving goals, all of which will help them in life.
It is important to understand that in order for a child to become more involved in physical activities, it is necessary to modify, reduce or remove other habits. One of the most important ones, TV. It is estimated that the average American child watches more than 30 hours of TV a week and gets less than 1 hour of exercise in the same time frame. That is a significant time commitment for a single activity, especially one that is sedentary. During adolescence, it can become more challenging when the Internet is included. Social network sites and online video games are very popular at this age and can consume several more hours a week. This is why it is so important to promote healthy habits early on.
The success of healthy habits will depend on how fun and challenging physical activities are to the child. Parents should help introduce new activities that children will enjoy and that they may even excel at. Teachers and coaches also play a key role in this process. Again, the main focus of physical activities should be having fun. Children who enjoy sports and exercise tend to stay active throughout their lives and this leads to a healthier lifestyle.
By Julio E Arias Viaud