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Why Is Physical Activity Important?

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Regular physical activity during childhood and adolescence helps build and maintain healthy bones, muscles and joints; helps control weight, build lean muscle, and reduce fat; reduces feelings of depression and anxiety; promotes social well-being, as well as physical and mental health - which may help increase student’s capacity for learning. Children who are physically active have more stamina and energy.

Physical inactivity has contributed to an unprecedented epidemic of childhood obesity in the United States. Children as young as 10 have shown signs of heart disease. Good eating habits and physical activity are the best ways to avoid heart disease.

Physical activity does not refer only to organized sports. Physical activity is anything that gets your children moving!

How can parents make a difference? Opportunities and motivation to be physically active begin in the home. Children are more likely to be active if their parents and siblings are active and if their parents support the child’s participation in physical activities.

Help Children Become More Active

Learn new activities together. For example, aerobic dancing or cross country skiing can be lots of fun for both children and adults.

Activities do not have to cost any money. Turn on the radio and dance, take a walk through new fallen snow.

Make time after dinner for activity. Get children involved in preparation and clean-up. Then spend the time you’ve saved by doing something together, like taking a walk with your children.

Organize a neighborhood jump rope or hula-hoop event. In the winter have a snowman building contest.

Kids of all ages love classic backyard and playground games -- teach your children the games you played as a child. Be sure to play along with them!

Create an obstacle course and take turns timing each other running through it.

Limit TV! The average American child spends more than 24 hours each week watching television and even more time sitting if they play electronic games or use the computer. This is often combined with snacking. The time could easily be spent participating in some sort of physical activity.

Everyone should try to be active at least 30 minutes each day . Look for ways to become more active throughout the day. For example, use the stairs instead of the elevator, walk to the bus stop.

Go walking together under the stars, during a misty rain....

Exercise with your children. Not only do you set a good example, but being active is also good for adults.