Why Physical Activity Is Important For Children

The present-day sedentary lifestyle and lack of physical activity have resulted in a growing brood of obese and unfit children. In this scenario, fitness has become vital for the young generation.

By Ashwin Dewan

Why Physical Activity Is Important For Children
To enjoy the glow of good health, you must exercise 

                                                                                    – Gene Tunney

Modern-day children are surrounded by gadgets of many types – television, smartphones, video games, computers – to name a few. They require little or no physical activity. This has a negative impact on the overall health of the children. Physical activity is important for a child’s development and lays the foundation for a healthy lifestyle. Children who are physically fit are also better equipped to handle physical and emotional challenges such as tests at school, and are more resilient on the whole.

Mohammed Ibrahim, a fitness expert who works at Snap Fitness in Bangalore, says today’s children are less fit compared to the earlier generation. Even to travel short distances they prefer to take an autorickshaw or car. He says children who are not physically fit often fall ill and lack energy.

Why is fitness so crucial for children? Let’s take a look at a few reasons:

1) Promotes healthy growth and development: Any form of physical activity such as cricket, football, swimming, cycling or running improves the physical endurance of children and strengthens their bones and muscles. Exercise also leads to improved blood circulation.

2) Keeps obesity at bay: Fit children do not suffer from weight issues. Today’s children lead a mostly sedentary lifestyle and consume junk food. This leads to a host of health problems like obesity. Exercise burns the calories and lowers weight. A stable weight is also good for the heart.

3) Keeps the heart strong: Like other muscles in the human body, the performance of the heart is improved when it is challenged by exercise. It becomes stronger and more efficient. When they grow into adults, fit children are able to keep heart disease at bay longer.

4) Improves energy levels: With regular exercise, children will feel more energetic. This will help them remain active throughout the day. In contrast, sedentary children often feel lethargic and lazy.

5) Boosts focus on studies: The article Fit kids do better at school, published in The Globe and Mail, says physically fit children perform better academically than less fit children. Children who are physically fit tend to be more focused in studies.

6) Enhances social skills: Fit children tend to excel in skills like leadership and team spirit. While playing team sports, children get an opportunity to meet new people, which enhances their social behaviour.

7) Regulates blood pressure: Many believe that only adults can suffer from hypertension and high blood pressure, but unfortunately, these conditions are prevalent even in children of today. Mayo Clinic says high blood pressure in children is the result of several factors – being overweight, not exercising and poor diet are some causes. Exercise is known to reduce stress levels in children.

8) Promotes happiness: As a norm, fit children are happy children. Children who exercise regularly often feel calm and experience a sense of well-being after exercise.

Ibrahim shares some simple tips to help you get your children to stay fit:

1) Avoid dropping the children to school by car. They should walk to the bus stop and take the bus.

2) Do not buy groceries online. Walk with your children to the nearest shop and buy what you need.

3) Take your children to the park to play or simply run about as often as possible.

4) Encourage physical activity in children from an early age.

5) Talk to your children often about the benefits of staying fit.

The article 'Be a fit kid,' published in Kidshealth suggests that if you're fit, your body works well, feels good, and you can easily do all the things you want to, like playing outdoor games with friends. Whether your child is running around, playing games, swimming, skipping or even climbing trees, physical activity will result in good health.

Getting children who are used to a sedentary lifestyle to be physically fit may be difficult, but it’s not impossible. The next time your child picks up the gaming control to play a video game, direct him to a pair of running shoes instead. It will help him in the long run.