Keep on Moving
How an active lifestyle can improve children's overall health
Make movement a daily routine. Being active is important to the wellness and development of a child’s body and mind. Yet a growing number of youths don’t get the adequate amount of exercise they need—a minimum of 60 minutes per day of moderate to vigorous activity. This can lead to various health issues, leave a significant mark on their childhood, and can even lower their quality of life.
Jamie Kohl, lead athletic trainer at Lee Health, says that regular physical activity can improve children’s well-being in many ways.
“It can help adolescents build strong bones and muscles, improve cardiovascular and respiratory fitness, control weight, aid in the control of symptoms from anxiety and depression, and can also help in reducing the development of health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes,” he says.
Unfortunately, however, sedentary habits, lack of exercise and unhealthy dietary choices have led to a nationwide obesity epidemic among children. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, one in five children in the United States is obese and their chance of becoming obese adults is as high as 70%.
Hence, starting to implement an active lifestyle at an early age is fundamental. Additionally, Kohl says that switching between cardiovascular and strength training is even better, not only for the body but also for the mind. It can help children develop better movement patterns, improve coordination and balance, and improve overall strength.
“Physically, the variety of activities will help to reduce the risk of injury,” he says. “Varying activities also provides a challenge to the cognition of the student by requiring them to learn new skills as well as rules and activity concepts, and it also reduces the risk of burnout.”
One of the best times of the year to encourage children to try out different sports is during the summer when plenty of camps run each month.
“Summer camps can be a great way to get a student active and step out of their comfort zone,” says Kohl. “Learning to communicate with new students, trying new activities that they may not typically be exposed to, and learning new skills can be beneficial.”
“It can help adolescents build strong bones and muscles, improve cardiovascular and respiratory fitness, control weight, aid in the control of symptoms from anxiety and depression, and can also help in reducing the development of health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.”
—Jamie Kohl, lead athletic trainer at Lee Health
Summer in Southwest Florida, however, means high temperatures and strong UV rays. Keeping safety in the forefront of our minds is key for all ages, from youngsters to high schoolers. Tad Cranfield, director of outpatient rehabilitation at Lee Health, advises, “Staying hydrated, using protection against exposure to the sun, and watching for signs of heat-related illness are a few things we need to be aware of.”
He also points out that the Athletic Training Program in Lee County has implemented several initiatives to protect athletes from heat-related illness. They have ice water baths called “cold tubs” available on the sidelines to quickly cool overheated athletes. They also use specialized Wet-bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT) thermometers that take into account temperature, humidity, wind speed, sun angle and cloud cover. This information can pave the way for recommendations concerning outdoor practice duration, intensity and break times.