Wednesday 24 April, 2019

Here’s why you should get your child moving

Stock image of a child exercising. (PHOTO: iStock)

Stock image of a child exercising. (PHOTO: iStock)

By Meisha-Gay Mattis 

According to reports by the Global School-based Student Health Survey (GSSHS), 18.1 per cent of boys and 25.2 per cent of girls are overweight in the 13 to 15 age group, while 5.3 per cent of boys and 6.7 per cent of girls are obese. That was seven years ago. Fast forward to 2017 and the results are jaw dropping. The obesity rate has almost doubled — 10.3 per cent in boys and 9.9 per cent in girls. This epidemic of childhood obesity is why, according to a 2015 report in the New England Journal of Medicine, today’s children are not expected to outlive their parents.

Technological advancement and its constant and growing interaction with children, urbanisation, the pressure on children to excel academically, and poor nutrition are several factors that have combined to cause low rates of physical activity among our youth.  

It is important that parents, teachers and caregivers help, educate and try to infuse physical activity and exercise into children's daily lives for personal development goals and/or maintaining physical fitness. They have to recognize that even moderate physical activity can help to prevent obesity and heart diseases. Now more than ever, Creating that atmosphere is essential because at this stage, they are more impressionable and it is the right time to set the foundation of healthy habits for life. Also, inactive children often grown into inactive adults and we want to prevent that.

Let’s make a conscious effort to create some disruption and help our children to get active once again, because their lives depend on it. Here are 10 reasons it’s important to get your child or children moving today:

1. A child who is active at least 60 minutes daily demonstrates lower rates of obesity.

2. Doing frequent physical activity has been associated with improvement in children’s behaviour in the classroom.

3. An increase in the size of essential brain structure and the number of neural connections is associated with aerobic activity.

4. Children who are more active have been linked to higher test scores in mathematics and reading.  

5. Cognitive and physical development walk hand in hand and this relationship is even more critical at an impressionable age. When a child is active, the brain develops better, making room for new types of activity.

6. Balance and coordination improves with high levels of activity and these are linked with improved emotional response. 

7. Self-efficacy—particularly health related—and self-image improves with regular involvement in physical activity.

8. Active children are more than likely to grow into active adults.

9. Physical activities that are play-based often requires a greater degree of sensory input (sounds, sight, touch, etc), which helps children to develop a broader array of skills. This will be beneficial to them as they get older.

10. Research has shown that frequent exercise in children reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Contributed by Meisha-Gay Mattis, founder of Bodhi, a Kingston-based holistic wellness company. She is a certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and Personal Fitness Trainer. Email for more information or visit any of the following 

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