- by Dr Gowher Yusuf
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- Feb 09 2017
Physical Activity for Children
(Source: Monica Hobbs Vinluan, JD; Sarah C. Armstrong, MD CME/CE Released: 09/24/2014)(Source: Monica Hobbs Vinluan, JD; Sarah C. Armstrong, MD CME/CE Released: 09/24/2014)
We talk a lot about food habits when we talk about childhood obesity. We spend less time talking about physical activity, but it's very important. The data show that children who meet physical activity guidelines are less likely to be obese, and a pattern of activity started in youth persists into adulthood. Among adults, regular physical activity is strongly correlated with lower risk for chronic diseases. So from a health perspective it's important that children develop physical activity habits early.
There are other emotional health benefits of physical activity that we talk less about. Children who are physically active have lower rates of anxiety and depression. Children need to be active. If they aren't, they get pent up and can present with behavioural problems. There was a great study linking physical activity to better behaviour in the classroom: better attention, better memory, less disruptive behaviour.
For children and adolescents (ages 6-17 years), the recommendation is at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity every day. Those 60 minutes can be broken up throughout the day.
Different opportunities that kids have in their daily lives to achieve that goal is important. For example, walking to school is a step toward achieving the 60-minute goal. Obviously activities during the school day will also help achieve that goal. But I think we want to talk more about time outside of school, when kids sometimes are not getting as much activity as they could be. And indeed, we need to think about all those days in the year when kids are not even in school, like the summer.
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