Thursday, February 17, 2011

Importance of Exercise for Children

I've mentioned before that I deal with issues in the winter. I just feel sad, folks. The sunshine is my lifeline. Crank up the light & warmth, and my mood follows right along. Direct correlation, I'm tellin' you.
Well, it's not just me. Up to 20% of people have at least a mild form, or some symptoms of seasonal affective disorder. It's a real deal.
The sunlight, and being outside, truly makes a difference.
And, I've realized, it's not just the's the exercise. When I'm inside, I'm far more likely to sit and cozy up...for a long time... read books, bake goodies and heavy meals... watch movies, all cuddled under blankets. My frisbee and trampoline-jumping days are forgotten, and the muffin top starts appearing. ;/

I realized just how much exercise, sunlight, fresh air really affects my kids, too, even if they don't vocalize it in so many words. (It's usually in the form of whining, fatigue, groans and complaining, added sibling rivalry.) During at least 3/4 of the year, we spend most of our time outdoors. Winter is hard on all of us.

Soooo, let's look at the facts:
"Increased physical activity has been associated with an increased life
expectancy and decreased risk of cardiovascular disease. Physical activity
produces overall physical, psychological and social benefits. Inactive children
are likely to become inactive adults. And physical activity helps with
•controlling weight
•reducing blood pressure
•raising HDL ("good")
•reducing the risk of diabetes and some kinds of cancer
•improved psychological well-being, including gaining more self-confidence
and higher self-esteem"
(It was from one of those medical sites, but I'll be darned if I lost the reference. Anywho, I believe every word of it. Exercise isn't just good for moods!)
Other benefits:
•It's good for your eyes, or so the research suggests. And why not? Seems being outside is just good for every part of our bodies.

It's even good for your brain. From The Huffington Post:

Science Daily reports that "exposure to specific bacteria in the environment,
already believed to have antidepressant qualities, could increase learning

Being outside also helps kids with ADHD. Makes sense to me.
I've tested this theory, as much as I'm able. When the kids have time to run around the house a few times, jump on the trampoline, or go for a walk BEFORE we start school, they are able to focus better. We also do a LOT of our schoolwork outside, when the weather permits. If being outside makes ME feel emotionally and physically healthier, then the same most likely holds true for others. 1+1=2 It all makes sense, folks. Let's get these kids outside!!

We practically live outside, when the temps get decent enough (I dislike being cold!!) In the spring and fall, particularly, we do ALL of our science lessons outside, hands-on. But, when I drive through the neighborhood in the afternoons and evenings, there are often no other children outside. :(

Moderate to vigorous physical activity feeds the brain with water, glucose, and oxygen, which we all need for optimal performance," says Pica. "And it gets those endorphins going, so we feel better too. That goes for both parents and kids."
People also get sick less often if they exercise regularly. You can actually fight away sickness with exercise!

I recently heard on the news that nearly 1/3 of children ages 4 to 19 eat fast food every day, and over 15% in that age group are obese. Am I the only one appalled by this? Really-- 1/3 of children eat fast-food EVERY day?! That is insane. It's a no-brainer that kids need exercise AND healthy foods. just throwing that out there. It's not enough to shove 'em out the door; we've gotta give our kids the right foods, too. I'm trying to get better about this myself, seeing as how I'm a regular cheese addict. ;)

Remember, spending time outside is GOOD FOR YOU! Yes, it's a fact. And, like most things, the more you do it, the more you want to do it. So I urge the happy and sad, depressed and anxious, childless & quiverful to get your butts out the door. Smile, breathe deeply. Enjoy. Live a little!!

I want to see more kids in my neighborhood out shooting hoops, riding scooters, playing baseball... !

I'm SO STINKIN' THANKFUL for this AMAZING weather today!! ~:)


Jenny said...

I've noticed you never see kids playing outside anymore. Charlie commented as we rode through some neighborhoods after the snow how great it was to see so many kids outside playing. Snow seems to be the only thing to get kids out anymore.

You've made some great points. Have you read 'The Last Child in the Woods'? It's a great motivator for getting your kids outside too.

Soaring High said...

I can't survive without sunshine. If it is even remotely warm, we are outside. I think today's outdoor total equaled about 5 1/2 hours. Yeah for sunshine!!!