Pressing buttons on various devises and getting to the “next level” of video games is the new hide-and-go-seek.
Researchers and parents are among those who note a considerable decline in children’s physical activity, especially spontaneous play outdoors. For a number of different reasons, the playground has gone virtual in the great indoors.
LISTEN TO THE CONSIDER THIS PODCAST ON PHYSICAL ACTIVITY HERE:
The numbers bear this out. Today’s children watch an average of at least three hours of television a day. Only 20 per cent meet the minimum daily requirement of 60 minutes of physical activity a day and less than 20 per cent walk to and from school, reports a Niagara Region infograph.
The potential health impacts are staggering. Niagara Region reports that one in three children in Niagara are obese or overweight.
And that worries exercise physiologist Bareket Falk. She says it is critical for children and youth to be physically active – run, jump, walk, play sports, etc. – for their long-term body strength, particularly for their bones.
In fact, youth is the time to put “more bone in the bank” to increase peak bone mass in adulthood, which potentially can delay or even prevent osteoporosis in old age, she says.
“The only time that we can add bone, that we can increase and enhance our bone mass and strength is during youth,” she say. “The best and most way to do it is using exercise and physical activity.”
But getting physically active doesn’t have to be costly or complicated, says youth worker Erin McBride.
“It’s getting outside, it’s getting to a community centre, walking on a track, skating, swimming; just taking advantage of whatever interests youth,” she says, adding that the activities “have to be fun for kids.
“Find opportunities to be active as a family,” she advises. “I think we underestimate how much our children look up to us as role models and how much they will imitate the behaviours they see through their parents.”
McBride and Falk discuss these and other issues in the podcast Supporting children and youth to be more active and healthy. Dr. Bareket Falk is professor in the Department of Kinesiology at Brock University and editor of the journal Pediatric Exercise Science. Erin McBride is general manager, Youth Outreach and Day Camp, YMCA of Niagara.
This year’s Consider This podcast series is produced in partnership with Niagara Connects, a Niagara-wide network of people for collaboration, planning, learning, innovation and community action.
WATCH THE CONSIDER THIS PODCAST ON PHYSICAL ACTIVITY HERE: