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Children who are lazy and inactive may later face chronic health problems, says a study that advises parents of such children to take steps before it is too late. Junk food, sedentary lifestyles and excessive television and computer usage have been blamed for creating couch potato children. At the same time, many children no longer take part in competitive sport at school.
Studies monitoring children’s activities have shown that a large proportion of children do not experience even the equivalent of a 10 minute brisk walk over a four day period. When the heart rates of these youngsters were monitored over the four days, the result was that the heart was put under almost no strain at all. The heart is a muscle and like any muscle, it grows stronger only if you put it under stress.
Previous studies have shown that physical inactivity plays a major role in health. Those who are physically inactive face a risk of developing coronary artery disease. It also increases the risk of stroke and such other major cardiovascular risk factors as obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol that is good for health.
A recent study led by Costan C. Magnussen, PhD, of the Menzies Research Institute in Tasmania, Hobart, Australia shows that changing unhealthy habits of children early will help them prevent heart diseases as they age. This is the best explanation on why parents need to encourage our children to make healthy lifestyle changes before they reach adulthood. Healthy lifestyle includes regular exercise, eating healthy foods and not smoking.
Participation in regular physical activity is critical to sustaining good health. Regular physical activity can help improve the lives of young people beyond its effects on physical health. Although research has not been conducted to conclusively demonstrate a direct link between physical activity and improved academic performance, such a link might be expected. Studies have found participation in physical activity increases adolescents’ self-esteem and reduces anxiety and stress.
Fitness measures for children aged between 8 and 16:
- Can your child keep up with group activities in the playground without becoming excessively red in the face?
- Does your child have three or more sessions per week of activities lasting longer than 20 mins that require moderate to vigorous exertion?
- Does your child have some physical activity everyday, whether it is walking to school, sports lessons, or recreation?
- Does your child have a blood pressure of 130mmHg (systolic) over 85mmHg (diastolic) or less?
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