The importance of physical activity in youth
We all have heard of the benefits of exercise. This applies to all ages. Exercise helps with body and brain functions; this is why it is recommended for both young and old. This is one of the many reasons why it is encouraged for the youth to participate in physical activity in school.
Physical activity comprises of play, games, sports, house chores, planned activity at school etc. It is recommended that children should perform physical activity of 60 min a day from the age of 6-17years. This should be moderate-to- intense physical activity. This activity can be broken up two 30 min sessions as well.
Benefits of Physical Activity
- Develop and improve bone strength as well as supporting structures (ligaments, tendons and muscles). This is known as your musculoskeletal system.
- Develop and improve heart and lungs (physical activity assists in efficiency). This is known as your cardiovascular system.
- Develop and improve co-ordination control. This is known as your neuromuscular system, where the nervous system communicates with the muscles it innervates.
- Lastly and very importantly, it assists with weight management.
Physical inactivity can result in:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Heart disease
In children the most common symptoms are obesity and type 2 diabetes, which can lead to other life-threatening conditions later in life.
Recommendations for physical activity
Activity should focus on the different systems found in the body. Namely; musculoskeletal, cardiovascular and neuromuscular systems.
Cardiovascular or aerobic activities help improve the heart’s function and its circulatory system as well as an improvement in lung function. Aerobic activity should be moderate-to-high intensity and done 3-4 times a week of 60 minutes. This could include active play (a game of catches) or structured play (physical education at school).
Muscle and bone strengthening activities can form part of aerobic activities.
Many people think of picking up weights when we say muscle/bone strengthening, however weight training is not recommended in children as it could stun their growth. Examples of weight training can be own body weight training (squats, lunging etc. or throwing light objects (i.e. medicine ball 1-3kg or even a netball).
Neuromuscular activities can be incorporated with cardiovascular and muscle strengthening activities. Neuromuscular activities focus on co-ordination, balance and movement. And are important for aiding for every day activities like crossing your midline, walking (which requires you to move opposite arm, opposite leg), driving, learning, the list is endless.
Furthermore, physical activity has been shown to benefit children battling with anxiety, depression, ADHD, social development. The list is endless on why physical activity is important in children.Follow us