We all know exercise is vital to keeping our bodies healthy, and for kids it may also be key to having a healthy mind. But for the generation born into a world of technology, it should come as no surprise that more than half of kids don’t get the recommended amount of exercise weekly and only five percent get the daily recommended amount of 60 minutes.
The emotional health and well being of our kids is becoming as important as the physical and we are seeing benefits of exercise reaching far beyond the just stronger muscles. Even the American Academy of Pediatrics updated its guidelines last year for diagnosing and treating depression in teens, recommending annual screenings for all children 12 and older. In Canada, scientists examined nearly 15,000 kids. They found that those who played sports between ages six and 10 had fewer emotional difficulties at age 12. Exercise has also been linked to better grades, reduced risk of depression and anxiety, and improved memory.
But exercise doesn’t have to be boring for kids or feel like a punishment. There are lots of ways to be active, have fun, and play and kids don’t have to be in an organized sport to do it. Anything that gets kids moving can help their body and mind – jumping rope, biking, swimming, playing the Wii. And parents can be a model by encouraging free play and exercising together as a family. At CustomED we are part of real-world solutions to the challenge of getting kids enough play time with programs like Fuel Up to Play 60 where we get to see first- hand the benefits of activity and play. Together we can empower kids to take control of both their physical and mental health.