"Playground awaits" Artwork courtesy of Marcel
Browsing thru the BBC website one weekend this month, two articles caught my attention.
The First Article:
"Many Children 'Slower Runners Than Their Parents Were" screamed an article by Michelle Roberts, the BBC News online Health Editor. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-24998497). It talks about the research by the University of South Australia which was presented recently at the American Heart Association’s annual meeting in Dallas, Texas recently. Australian researchers analyzed 50 studies on running fitness conducted in 28 countries between 1964 and 2010. More than 25 million healthy kids, ages 9 to 17, were part of the studies, all of which gauged fitness in terms of how far kids could run in a set time-frame or how long it took to run a set distance. According to the study, youngsters now are about 1.5 minutes slower in a one-mile run than children 30 years ago. Across nations, cardiovascular endurance - gauged by how far children can run in a set time - has dwindled consistently by about 5% every decade, according to the findings.
The decline is seen in boys and girls and across all ages from nine to 17 years, and is linked to obesity. "They're carrying too much body fat, making it "more difficult [for them] to move through space," explains lead researcher Grant Tomkinson, Ph.D., a senior lecturer in the University of South Australia’s School of Health Sciences. Beyond battling obesity, kids also have to contend with an environment that is toxic to activity. "It’s not that kid’s today can’t perform as well as say their parents, but it’s just that they don’t perform as well," says Tomkinson, citing lack of green space, suburbanization, changes in school-based physical education programs, and too much screen time watching TV or playing video games as likely contributors to diminished cardio fitness.
It is recommended that children and adolescents participate in 60 minutes of physical activity every day, the majority of which should be aerobic. Though that may sound like a lot, the activity can be broken into four, 15-minute intervals, for example. "Kids don’t have to do everything all at once,"says Tomkinson. "They can run, ride bikes, swim, play a game, do anything in bite-size chunks of time and reap some benefits."
The Second Article:
"Exercise 'Boosts Academic Performance' of Teenagers" is the title of the second article (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-24608813). It is about the study by the universities of Strathclyde and Dundee of about 5,000 children that found links between exercise and exam success in English, math and sciences. It found an increase in performance for every extra 17 minutes boys exercised, and 12 minutes for girls. Children who carried out regular exercise, not only did better academically at 11 but also at 13 and in their exams at 16, the study suggested.
The relevance of these studies is pretty much obvious for parents. We need to invest some time and a little bit of money to encourage our kids to go for more exercises of the physical kind rather than spend countless hours in front of the IPad playing video games. Improving fitness also improves self-esteem, improves mood, reduces depression and even improves academic performance. It’s just a little investment that can lead to fantastic changes now and in adulthood.