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The Most Pressing Reason Why We Need to Help Our Kids Get Moving

The following was written by IHRSA's Executive Vice President of Public Policy Helen Durkin, JD, for PsychCentral.

A headline crossed my desktop recently. And it made me sad:

U.S. ranks near bottom among countries for youth fitness, study says

We’d ranked 47 out of 50.

It didn’t concern me that we’d be among the losers in a global field day. After all, the pressure to always win, rather than to have fun, is a key reason why most kids in the U.S. drop out of organized sports by the time they’re thirteen.

The news made me sad because, chances are, the lack of physical activity among our youth, and ultimately among these future adults, will adversely affect how they feel—about themselves and their lives.

I could easily lay out scores upon scores of research studies that prove time and again the benefits of exercise to good health. Regular physical activity helps prevent and/or better manage type 2 diabetes, heart disease, certain cancers, arthritis, and other chronic illnesses. Exercise also has proven to be a cognitive power boost. Studies show that regular physical activity helps kids better focus and helps improve their academic performance. Moreover, there’s a growing body of evidence that shows that exercise may even help protect us against cognitive decline as we age.

But what made me really sad when I read that headline was the realization that our failure as a society to create a culture for our children that reveres physical activity as an indispensable part of everyday life hurts them.

Somewhere along the line, our society became too sedentary. We sit more at work. We sit more at school. We sit more in our cars. And we sit more at home, in front of our TVs, computers, video games, and smartphones.

Somewhere along the line, we “advanced” to the point that we’ve “high-teched” movement out of our lives; and as a result, too many kids no longer see running around outside as fun.

Frankly, we’ve fallen short. 

Continue reading "The Most Pressing Reason Why We Need to Help Our Kids Get Moving" on PsychCentral.

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