Monday, November 3, 2014

Physical Activity Truth . . . Let’s Move Jeffco Youth

Encouraging an active lifestyle for children beginning at a young age can create an overall healthier life with reduced risk for many chronic diseases. National guidelines determined by the CDC suggest that children need 60 or more minutes of physical activity each day. Not only can regular physical activity help defend against childhood obesity and chronic illnesses, a new study has recently shown that it will improve children’s mental or “cognitive” skills, too.

The study, published in Pediatrics in September, reported improvement in memory, focus, attention and the ability to switch back and forth between tasks in 100 children (ages 7 to 9) involved in an after-school program of a little over an hour of moderate to vigorous exercise every weekday for almost the entire school year. While an hour a day of exercise may sound like a lot, rethinking how we define and categorize exercise can help.

Meeting a child’s daily physical activity goal can include activities such as informal, active play to organized sports. Here are some great tips from the CDC on creating a supportive environment for children to succeed:
  • Set a positive example by leading an active lifestyle yourself;
  • Make physical activity part of your family's daily routine by taking family walks or playing active games together;
  • Give your children equipment that encourages physical activity;
  • Take young people to places where they can be active, such as public parks, community baseball fields or basketball courts;
  • Be positive about the physical activities in which your child participates and encourage them to be interested in new activities;
  • Make physical activity fun. Fun activities can be anything your child enjoys, either structured or non-structured. Activities can range from team sports or individual sports to recreational activities such as walking, running, skating, bicycling, swimming, playground activities or free-time play;
  • Instead of watching television after dinner, encourage your child to find fun activities to do on their own or with friends and family, such as walking, playing chase or riding bikes; and,
  • Be safe! Always provide protective equipment such as helmets, wrist pads or knee pads and ensure that activity is age-appropriate.

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