Children and young adults who exercise regularly are more likely to seek physical activity and fitness throughout their lifespan. Theodore Garland, Jr, a professor of biology at UC Riverside, notes in this 2015 study, “If kids exercise regularly through the school years, then they may be more likely to exercise as adults, which could have far-reaching positive effects on human health and well-being.”
New research published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise (2018; 50 , 709-14), states there is an association between years spent running during adolescence and BMI at age 24.
According to Preventative Medicine, participants who participated in sports at age 10 were significantly more likely to participate in sport/physical activity at age 42 compared to participants that did not participant in sport/physical activity and only engaged in active outdoor play.
As we look at the world around us, it is not surprising that our world is growing more obese, especially our children. Modern lifestyles mean that most children, adolescents, and adults don’t exercise enough to meet the minimum recommendations specified by current public health guidelines. Children today weigh more and have a higher body mass index (BMI) than their peers of just a generation earlier (Ogden et al., 2012).
So what does this mean for the health and longevity of today’s children when they reach adulthood?
Research suggests that physical activity decreases progressively throughout a person’s lifespan. So, if children are not physically active now, the likelihood of them adapting an active lifestyle in adulthood is slim.
What can you do to raise an active child? There are blog posts and even infographics available with suggestions on when and how to include children in physical activity.
The absolute best way to raise a physically active child is to be a physically active parent. Children who regularly see their parents enjoying sports and physical activity are more likely to do so themselves.
The key word here is enjoying.
Participation in physical activity for young children is found to be more enjoyable when children are not being forced to compete and win, but encouraged to experiment with different activities.
- Provide children with many different types of physical activity and sport-encouraged participation.
- Enjoyment and support from parents.
- Share active time with friends.