Physical activity generates positive health, so it’s vital that young people get regular exercise from an early age.
The importance of regular exercise for children and teenagers has been backed by research from the Institute of Medicine in Washington D.C. in the United States.
Authored by Harold Kohl and Heather Cook, the paper entitled Educating the Student Body: Taking Physical Activity and Physical Education to School[i] reveals the value of exercise routines early in life to achieve lasting health benefits.
The research proves that in terms of mortality rates, the global burden of physical inactivity is at a similar level to cigarette smoking. It claims that disease associated with lack of exercise is now at a pandemic level.
Co-author Harold Kohl says that lack of regular exercise at an early age can have a very detrimental effect on young people.
“We are learning every day about these effects. Some early cardiovascular disease risk factors have been shown to be elevated in young people who are inactive, overweight and obesity is higher among young people who are inactive.”
He refers to other research that shows positive educational outcomes for the physically fit. “New data shows that children and adolescents who are physically active are more likely to do better academically.”
Kohl says that studies worldwide indicate that 80 per cent of children are not achieving their daily recommended guidelines for physical activity, (60 minutes a day of at least moderate intensity exercise).
He says that instilling enjoyable daily exercise into routines at an early age can lead to positive life-long outcomes.
There is a natural drop in activity levels in adolescents, but Kohl believes the early development of exercise regimes can mitigate this.
“As they age into adolescence we see a sharp dive (particularly among girls) in physical activity participation. But by helping children and adolescents work physical activity into everyday life we can help stem the drop off in activity that occurs into adolescence.”
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