How Does Regular Physical Activity Help Us?

Essential to understanding the impact of physical activity upon general health and wellness is an understanding of the importance of maintaining your body’s energy balance.

Our body needs to strike a balance between calories consumed through eating food and the calories burned as a result of operating our bodily functions and engaging in physical activity. We experience an energy imbalance when we consume more food calories than our bodies can burn. When we have such an energy imbalance, our bodies convert the excess unexpended calories or energy to fat for storage and that is the start of the slippery slope to obesity!.

Increasingly sedentary lifestyles and an increase in food portion sizes in our nation have jointly contributed to a prolonged energy imbalance that has resulted in greater numbers of us retaining unhealthy weight. Based upon research, public health experts encourage us to engage in regular physical activity to help re-establish and sustain the correct energy balance in our body that is essential to maintaining a healthy weight.

In short, we are being told to become active again and that by doing so we will burn a greater number of calories. This will, in turn, help our bodies strike the energy balance necessary to maintain a healthy weight.

How can parents help their children practice making healthy physical activity choices for healthy lives?

Involve the whole family: – Finding time in busy schedules to include the time for being active together is essential to meeting the recommended levels of physical activity.

Choose activities the entire family can engage in together and have fun.You can make it a “team” effort and chart your levels of activity as a motivator.

Be a good role model: – Our children learn a great deal about life practices through observing the behaviors of their parents and caregivers. Set a “good” example by incorporating moderate to vigorous physical activity in your own life.

Support your child’s participation in “fun” physical activity: – Help your child by positively encouraging them to find physical activities that they enjoy. Accompany them on trips to facilities such as, playgrounds, ball fields, and structured sports leagues that place a priority on giving all children the opportunity to play.

Check with your school and local department of parks and recreation for competitive as well as non-competitive sports and physical activity programs in your community.

Turn off the television, computer, and other passive electronic entertainment: – Studies have shown that our children are watching hours of television or playing electronic games daily.

Limiting time spent in these sedentary activities increases the opportunities for you and your children to become active together. Going for a brisk walk or playing ball together can positively impact your ability to amass the recommended levels of physical activity.

Have the family members sign a contract: – Executing a contract promising that each family member will engage in a prescribed amount of physical activity, either together or individually, if it cannot be accomplished jointly, will help meet target levels.

Chart the family’s progress toward an attainable goal and reward the family with a non-food prize when goals are realized.