Why Exercise If You’re A Kid?

Posted 02/08/2013 | By HealthCorps

Well, a lot of reasons!

Experts say, “Because “no exercise” is worse than “couching.” 

A person can be engaged and move about in their day and choose not to engage in physical activity, that raises their heart rate or challenges their muscle mass.  That person has decided to be a “non-exerciser.”

The term couch potato is used to describe an individual who spends significant time engaged in sedentary behavior that has little productive purpose, i.e. watching TV, playing video games, or simply sitting still for long periods of time.

We all know that being a couch potato does not do a body good.  When it comes to kids, a new study suggests that the choice to not engage in exercise, specifically in a kid’s life, has a more significant role in promoting higher body fat, than just being a couch potato.

That means that as bad as inactivity is, lack of meaningful exercise specifically, is a higher risk factor for developing excess body fat.  Of course, the fewer hours a child spends just sitting around, the better.

But the study suggests that the role of exercise – the kind that raises your heart rate (cardiovascular) and the kind that builds muscle mass (weight training) – appears to uniquely repel gaining fat, and is a key element of combating childhood obesity.

Kids profiled in the study who did not engage in regular, meaningful exercise typically carried 11 pounds more (boys) or 7 pounds more (girls) than their counterparts that exercised regularly, through sports or afterschool/weekend activity.  Even light walking was considered effective exercise for kids.

Despite the study’s findings, allowing kids to sit for long periods of time, playing video games or watching TV, is not an acceptable pastime either.  Sitting for long periods is also associated with excessive eating and snacking, another risk factor for obesity.

So what is the message from this particular study?  Based on this study, exercise helps kids to avoid gaining excess body fat.  Parents need to find ways to get their kids involved in physical activities and sports.  Some kids may enjoy team sports, while for others an individual sport like running, swimming or playing tennis may be a better match.

And if you preach physical activity to your child, you should be modeling the behavior as well.

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