There is no doubt that with the dawning of technology it is tempting to spend more time in front of the computer than outside playing. Most students have gym class every day, but is that enough exercise to keep kids healthy?
Fortunately, after-school physical activities are available at nearly every school. From soccer to track and field, there are opportunities for students to hone their skills while they build up their endurance and strength.
According to one website, obesity has more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents in the past three years. Obese youth are more likely to have risk factors for long-term cardiovascular disease such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Children who are obese are also at a greater risk for bone and joint problems, sleep apnea, and poor self-esteem.
Sports aren’t just good for the body; they may also help communities too, according to the United Nations’ Sports for Development and Peace. The initiative found research indicating that sports programs promote social inclusion, have a positive impact on crime prevention, instill leadership skills, and promote awareness of disease prevention. Studies also show that exercise can improve the quality of life and promote rehabilitation and healing for individuals with intellectual and physical challenges.
Here are three benefits of PE programs and after-school sports:
1. Improves physical fitness and health
The most obvious benefit of PE is that physical activity helps develop healthy bones, joints, and muscles, and fends off obesity. PE prepares children to be physically and mentally active, and fit and healthy for life.
2. Strengthens interpersonal skills and peer relationships
Physical education and sports can help build a young person’s confidence and social interactions. One of the overall values is respect and the importance of showing respect for oneself, playing partners, and fellow competitors. Students build an appreciation for the positive personal and social values associated with the game and with each lesson.
3. Improves student performance in academics
Research shows that healthy activity helps strengthen and stimulate a young person’s mind. Studies indicate increased fitness and sports activities leads to improved academics and attention spans. Physical education also helps students build self-discipline and personal goal setting.
When talking about getting 60 minutes of exercise a day, kids don’t necessarily need to be enrolled in sports (although that is the most convenient connection). Walking the dog around the block, playing on the jungle gym, or riding a bike are all great cardiovascular movements that strengthen the heart and firm the muscles. Even winter activities can build one’s endurance. Walking through the snow, shoveling, skiing, and ice skating all are beneficial exercises.
Get your kids out and moving! And if you have time – join them! Cardio work is good for everyone!