Move more not less. Our Kids are our Future: Understanding Exercise for Kids
Poor posture in our kids is becoming more the norm then the exception. As the younger generation spends more time on mobile phones, computers, gaming and watching television, a future generation of postural misfits is in the making.
At Motion Dynamics, we see this as the new health plague. Our education and related systems are not recognizing the enormity of the problem.
Poor posture is an epidemic. Kid’s postural issues.
Rounded shoulders, flexed heads and necks and hunched backs are more common these days. A “Fitnessgram ” study of 200,000 youth, reported in The Journal of Pediatrics, found 60% had low aerobic capacity, core weakness, high body mass index (BMI) and weak upper back strength. Grades 5 to 8 are the most important years as this is when aerobic capacity declines and BMI increases.
New technologies make it too easy to sit and not go anywhere. We are becoming a world of weaklings. It is time to change the dialog with our kids. Simply put, we want them to move more. Strong kids can easily do push-ups and squats and the rest can’t. Help your kids decide what is best for them. Whether it is team or individual sports, gymnastics, martial arts, skateboarding, dance, or yoga, help them find their physicality through movement.
Greater attention spans, faster cognitive processing speeds & a better performance are the results
Great Ormond Street Hospital, London, and the UK National Health Service note “Research indicates that inactive children are likely to become inactive adults, putting young people at risk of developing life-threatening conditions such as heart disease and cancer. This is why it's important to encourage exercise and keeping fit from a young age.”(1)
Orthopaedic doctors know that a fit and healthy child must have strong bones for support and to act as shock absorbers. A child who doesn’t move much has softer bones with less support and stability. They are more prone to injury and disease.
Studies performed by the American Academy of Pediatricians indicate that kids who exercise often have greater attention spans, faster cognitive processing speeds and better performance on tests compared with kids who are less active.
The Mayo Clinic recommends we get our kids to do strength and resistance training from the age of 8 onwards. The benefits include: strengthening your child's bones; promotes healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels; helps your child maintain a healthy weight; and, improve your child's confidence and self-esteem.(2)
At Motion Dynamics, we believe that how you spend the first 14 years of your life will determine how you will spend the last 14 years. If you are active and sporty as kids, you expand the veins and arterial systems. It makes the smooth muscle tissue that surrounds them softer and more pliable from a very early age. This allows you to move and recover at a much faster rate during the latter years of your life.
Move more, not less
There are plenty of healthy activities and exercises to help tone and strengthen muscles that are just as effective. Kids exercise games are beneficial. From climbing trees and handstand competitions to wrestling and playing tag, the benefits of exercise for children is well documented.
Active kids have stronger muscles and bones, leaner bodies, less risk of becoming overweight, a lower chance of getting Type 2 diabetes, lower blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels and, a better outlook on life.(3) What more could you wish for your kids?
Stretching exercises are another key to improving flexibility, allowing muscles and joints to bend and move easily through their full range of motion. Kids stretch every day when they reach for a toy, practice a split, or do a cartwheel.
There is so much psychology associated with exercise
Most kids think you must be a “jock” to be into fitness and that the only time you need to push yourself is during sports day or school fitness tests.
Letting kids decide what they love to do and not what they feel they should be doing will make them more passionate and purposeful. This requires trial and error for parents and teachers. Keeping it fun is the key.
The personality of the kid who loves the individuality of solo rowing or running is different from the kids who prefer dance, taekwondo or football. Activity of every sort is beneficial.
Organized team sports teach our kids to work better in groups. They can also be the most exciting aspect of school life. Organized, fun and predictable, it is something kids look forward to.
Regardless of the sport, these movements get hard wired into your motor cortex. Muscle memory ensures you never forget how to perform them if you started early in life. And team sports prepare kids for adulthood, when working in business groups and collaborating on projects becomes essential.
The important thing is to find out what they want to do and to let them thrive.
If you offer a day of hiking and your child says “no”, perhaps camping under the stars will get a “yes”. The exercise associated with hiking to the campsite and setting up camp is forgotten in the promise of a night under the stars.
A rowing machine is good, but rowing in the water makes it more fun. Another opportunity to offer your child a choice while stabilizing their upper back.
Regardless of the method, always teach proper form. Don’t exhaust your kids by making them do too many repetitions. They will lose form and interest quickly. Let them know they are progressing and praise them often when they reach their goals.
Kids often feel that the problem with fitness is that it is limited to cardio, strength and sport. Fitness is motion and that is the essential dynamic. The important thing is to find out what they want to do and to let them thrive. It will change their appearance and attitude and set them on an active life path.