Friday, March 8, 2013

Exercise Is Good For Young Minds Too

In Exercise May Help Protect Children From Stress Jan Hoffman says researchers may have determined that exercise seems to help children cope with stress, and that this may be among the reasons physically active children generally report happier moods and fewer symptoms of depression than children who are less active.

While the specifics of the research are interesting, this seems to go without saying. After all, why would physical activity's effects be any different on children than it is on adults.

Meanwhile "only 29 percent of high school students meet the national guideline of 60 minutes a day." Hopefully this research will emphasize the importance of providing children with adequate physical activity in schools, especially in these times when they may be facing increased stress as a result of the Common Core curriculum and the standardized tests that go along with them.

While it is important to balance activity with time for free play, there's no reason why exercise can't be incorporated into every child's routine. It's also important to recognize the distinction between physical activity and exercise, even if they both have an equal benefit to stress. While physical activity results in a form of exercise, the goal is usually an attempt to accomplish something other than simply exercising the body, such as chores, athletic competition, or having fun. Often, however, a reliance on these activities as a means of exercise proves unsustainable later in life. Most adults do not have jobs that provide a well rounded exercise curriculum and aren't able to fit adequate time in their schedules for regular sports competition or literally running around and having fun. Later in life they, hopefully, learn that the only way to include the necessary amount of physical activity in their lives is through exercise. Well if that's the case then what better time to teach kids to incorporate exercise into their lives than when their very young?

Kids are never too young to learn simple exercises like jumping jacks, which are great for a warmup, squats, pushups, and crunches. When they get a little older they can add pullups to their routine.

Exercise can be added to the list of prerequisites for playing video games or watching TV along with homework, keeping your room clean, chores, etc. This is a great way to incentivize kids to exercise while reducing screen time.

Parents can create physical challenges that will encourage kids to work for an extended period of time in order to accomplish a long term goal.

Most martial arts' programs incorporate a exercise routines in addition to helping build a child's confidence.

Is exercise a part of your child's routine? What have been some challenges, and what strategies have you found that work?

1 comment:

  1. @nytimeswell When Exercise Stresses You Out addresses the question "does the stress of having to exercise counteract the actual stress-reducing benefits of exercise?" and explains why sometimes it is worthwhile to just push yourself through the motions. Exercise is the means to an end, and the means is not always easy or enjoyable, but the end will be.


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