It isn’t news, or shouldn’t be, that if we are inactive, we won’t be as healthy. Yet, we are spending more time in front of screens—computers, televisions, tablets, and phones—than ever before. Some of these may provide games or apps about exercise, or even may have some activity connected with them—but that does not equate to actual physical exercise, in most cases. (The exception to that may be dance or sports games played on a video console where we are actually moving around in the room and building up a sweat.) We know this, and we know it’s even more important for our kids, yet we remain sedentary, and as a result, so do they. It’s time to change that. Perhaps this information gleaned from recent studies will convince you, and your kids, to get up off that couch!
There are numerous studies that have been, involving hundreds of children and they all point to the same thing: that being sedentary for much of the day leads to increased risks of developing diabetes and heart disease. And there are other risks.
According to one report of a study done in 2012 by a group of Portuguese researchers at a number of different universities in the country, kids with a sedentary lifestyle—watching a lot of television, or spending time in front of computer or tablet screens—are nine times more likely to have poor motor skills and coordination, because they aren’t developing skills needed for balance, jumping. The lead author of the study was quoted in the report saying, “Childhood is a critical time for the development of motor coordination skills, which are essential for health and well-being. We know that sedentary lifestyles have a negative effect on these skills and are associated with decreased fitness, lower self-esteem, decreased academic achievement, and increased obesity…The results demonstrate the importance of setting a maximum time for sedentary behaviour, while encouraging children to increase their amount of physical activity. We hope that our findings will make a valuable contribution to the debate on child health and encourage future investigations on this subject.”
It seems that future investigations are indeed being done. One University of Michigan study pointed out that increased television watching among children can lead to, among other things, being overweight due to lack of physical activity and unhealthy eating habits (commercials promoting unhealthy snack foods, wanting to watch television while eating, etc.), and poor sleep habits. Another study looked at the impact of watching more than two hours of television daily had on the health of a group of 26-year old adults. “Researchers found that “17% of overweight, 15% of raised serum cholesterol, 17% of smoking, and 15% of poor fitness can be attributed to watching television for more than 2 hours a day during childhood and adolescence.” This was after controlling for confounding variables.”
While all of this may seem like old news, it is news that is not getting old, or going away. Each year there are new guidelines to help us help ourselves, and our kids, live a happier, healthier, active lifestyle. So, turn off the screens and get everybody going!
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