Getting children to become more active will not only improve their physical health, it can also have a significant impact on their emotional health by contributing to happier moods and fewer signs of depression. An added benefit from our children exercising more is they are likely to work harder on their studies and achieve more in the classroom.
According to a new study by The Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism, conducted by a Finnish research group, 258 8-year-old boys and girls were given wrist accelerometers, to be worn for four days, to measure their quantity and quality of physcial activity. In order to get an accurate reading of their child’s physical activity levels, the parents were asked to participate by collecting saliva, with a cotton swab, from the child’s mouth to monitor cortisol levels. Cortisol is a hormone that appears when the body is either physically or mentally stressed.
The results showed that children who engaged in mild to strenuous activity showed very little or no increases in their cortisol levels when exposed to stress. By contrast, children who had lower or almost no physical activity exhibited considerable increases in their cortisol levels, over time, when exposed to stressful situations.
An additional study, published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention makes available the physical activity recommendations, for children and adolescents, as stated by the US Department of Health and Human Services and concludes:
- Regular physical activity improves overall health and strength in children it can also reduce anxiety, increase self esteem and is likely a contributing factor to lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels.
- Improvements in academic performance, classroom achievements and concentration levels, has, in some cases, been attributed to increased physical activity either in school PE classes or out- of-school activity participation.
- Reduction in chances for developing serious health issues such as: diabetes, cardiovascular disease or other chronic health conditions.
If you are looking for even more reasons to get and keep the kids moving, The Journal of Pediatrics recently released a study and the findings indicate that moderately intense aerobic exercise has been shown to improve behavioral and academic performance in children who have been diagnosed as ADD or ADHD. Just last month, WebMD announced the results of an upcoming study, conducted by The Journal of Pediatrics, which states that children who are elementary and middle school aged, and who lacked regular amounts of sufficient exercise, were more likely to fail math and reading exams.
Teaching our children to be healthy has long term benefits on their health and overall well being. With some schools focusing on classroom testing and solely on academic results, physical activity may not always be a priority in some schools. As parents we can try to work more closely with our schools to make sure exercise time continues to remain a part of the school day and take time to walk, run, bike, swim, dance and play with our kids.