By Ken Reed

The list of research-based benefits from exercise, sports and other forms of physical activity is a long one.

It includes better cardiorespiratory health, stronger bones and muscles, lower blood pressure, less risk of Type 2 diabetes, weight reduction, reduced anxiety and depression, and improved cognitive functioning. In addition, research has shown that physically active K-12 students generally have better grades, enhanced memory capabilities, lower rates of absenteeism, and better classroom behavior.

“Being physically active is a win-win,” writes Charlene Burgeson, executive director of Active Schools, in a piece for Modern Wellness Guide.

“[Being physically active] has both immediate and long-term benefits. It is also a win for both kids and the adults who care for them.”

However, according to the Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative in 2016, only 24 percent of kids ages 6-17 get 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity every day. That’s the minimum needed according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It’s also a fair assumption that activity levels during the Covid-19 pandemic have dropped even lower due to cutbacks in structured school, community and club sport activity groups.

Parents can help kids get — or stay — active by exercising, playing sports, and doing other physical activities with their children. The whole family will benefit.

“For kids to participate in the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity per day, they need movement opportunities at school and at home,” writes Burgeson.

“Scientific research supports that physical activity behaviors of children and parents are highly intertwined.”

As a country, we have never been more sedentary.

It’s sad when as adults we choose to lead inactive lifestyles. But it’s even more sad when we don’t provide our children the opportunity to establish physically-active lifestyles when they are young.

Here’s the reality of the situation: Our children are on pace to be significantly more overweight and obese than we are by the time they reach adulthood.
To change that trend we need to be very creative in helping kids find ways to be physically active.

One way to do that is for adults to participate with their children, in a variety of activities, as often as possible.

As Burgeson says, that’s a win-win.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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