Benefits of Exercise

Hey Fort Mill!!!  We are less than a week away from the first day of school!  Its crazy to think about…

As summer comes to a close and pool days are limited, have you thought about how you will continue to keep yourself and your children active?  Daily physical activity keep us fit and healthy.

When most adults think about exercise, they think about running on a treadmill or laps at the pool.  What exercise should be for ALL of us, however, is being physically active.  For adults that may mean working in the garden, dancing in your living room, going for a walk or practicing yoga.  For children, its playing at school recess, riding bikes through the neighborhood, or even playing tag in the yard.

The benefits of exercise are vast.  The list is too long to write here, but some of the main elements are: 

  1. Better sleep (see last week’s blog post)
  2. Stronger, leaner bodies
  3. Less risk of becoming overweight
  4. Less chance of developing chronic diseases such as Type II Diabetes, high blood pressure and even some cancers.
  5. Better coping skills, including better adaption to both physical and emotional stressors.

Let’s break it down by age:

Toddlers and preschool-aged children should play several times a day, toddlers should get at least 60 minutes of active play and pre-schoolers should get at least 120 minutes of a combined of adult-led and unstructured play daily.  Do not let young children be inactive for long periods of time, unless they are sleeping.

There are three basic elements of fitness and our physical activities should be of a variety that include all three:

  1. Endurance
  2. Strength
  3. Flexibility

Endurance develops when we do activities that make us breathe harder, make our heart beat faster and make our large muscles expand and contract.  This makes the HEART STRONGER to allow the blood to deliver oxygen effectively to the body.

Aerobic activity for endurance includes:

  1. Multiple different team sports including basketball, soccer, and tennis
  2. Jogging/running
  3. Swimming
  4. Bike riding

Strength training encompasses activities that help to strengthen and tone our muscles.  Many adults think of weight lifting, which is certainly part of this, but we can all strengthen our bodies in multiple types of ways!

   Activities for strength:

  1. Yoga
  2. Gymnastics
  3. Dance
  4. Cartwheels in the yard
  5. Climbing a tree
  6. Monkey bars on the playground
  7. Swings

Flexibility improves when we allow the joints and muscles to move through their full range of motion.  Stretching is not just about being able to touch your toes – it helps kids remain active while reducing the risk of injury!

Kids stretch every day when:

  1. They reach for a toy
  2. Bend over to pick up toys and clean the playroom
  3. Practice a split
  4. Again, practice yoga
  5. Reach into the cabinet for a cup

All three of these elements of activity are important for our children to grow strong and healthy. We, as a society, are much more sedentary than we used to be.  But this shouldn’t take the place of getting enough sleep and remaining active.  Our bodies are designed to MOVE.  Our children learn from our example – make exercise a family activity!  If your children see that it is an important part of your life, it will continue to be an important part of theirs.  So, put on those walking shoes and get out there together!!!!!

Special note:  Look for upcoming information on Walk With A Doc!  We will have our first community walk together October 7th at Kingsley beginning at New South Family Medicine!