The Importance of Regular Physical Activity

We have become an increasingly inactive, or sedentary society. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) tells us that our nation’s increasingly physically inactive and poor nutritional lifestyle have combined to make obesity a leading cause of preventable death in America.

Medical evidence confirms that inactivity puts us at risk for diseases including coronary artery disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, certain types of cancer and depression, among other chronic diseases.

Making regular physical activity, in conjunction with healthful eating, a habit requires commitment, time and patience. It is essential to lifelong wellness. You should do it for yourself and your family. Do it together! Each child will learn to take greater responsibility for the choices they make with regard to their free time activities.

Parental support and encouragement of physically active choices will reinforce the positive value of such activity. Participating alongside your child in these activities will help to firmly establish regular physical activity as a lifelong “choice” activity for them.

Younger children will, of course, require more direction and guidance from you than older children to begin and continue participating regularly in lifelong physical activity building experiences. But, again, all children regardless of age will benefit from support, encouragement, and your actual participation in the child’s efforts to become more physically active.

How much physical activity should you and your children be getting? Here are some general guidelines:

Adults – 30 minutes of moderate physical activity (equivalent to brisk walk) on most days of the week can reduce the risk of chronic disease in later years.

Adults – Up to 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity will enhance your health, reduce the risk of chronic disease and help prevent weight gain.

Children & Adolescents – At least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity on most, if not all, days of the week to maintain good health and fitness and for maintaining a healthy weight while growing.

These minutes do not have to be consecutive and uninterrupted. They can be collected in small 10 – 15 minute increments over the course of the day.

It is also worthy to note that more vigorous activity provides greater health and weight benefits.

How Much Time Do You Spend Being Physically Active?

If you’re already doing this much, that’s great and keep on moving! If you’re not, we think you can hit that mark. If you don’t know how much time you spend, you might surprise yourself. Think of this as like solving a mystery. There are some things we can do to help you figure it out.

To make it easier to figure out your current level of activity, it really helps to keep a journal. Over the next few days try and mark down during or at the end of the day how much time you spent being active. You don’t have to do it all at one time; you can collect it over smaller segments of at least 10 – 15 minutes throughout your day.

You can include in your journal time spent in gym class, playing on a sports team, doing running or games during recess, or any other activities you did before or after school that involved being on the move or getting exercise.