The 2016 United States Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth has been released, and it’s clear our kids did not make the “movement honor roll.” In overall activity participation, 6- to 19-year-olds earned a dismal D-, with only 21.6% of them achieving the recommended 60 minutes of activity per day on most days of the week.
The report card is produced as part of the U.S. National Physical Activity Plan, which assesses activity levels and offers solutions for improvement.
Current guidelines say children should get at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day for optimal health and fitness. For many, this is a tall order. Fortunately, exercise doesn’t require an all-or-nothing approach. Recent research has determined that even small amounts of daily high-intensity activity can help kids ward off weight gain.
"He's just not very coordinated."
"She's out of shape."
Health and fitness professionals who join the physical literacy movement can play a powerful role in helping children become active for life. Here are several ways you can get started:
In 2013, injuries related to backpack use affected at least 14,000 children, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. The school year may have started already, but it’s not too late to teach kids how to wear backpacks properly and reduce injury risk.
Follow these recommendations from the American Chiropractic Association:
Experts often say that the first step in overcoming a problem is to recognize that you have one. Researchers from the Health Behaviour Research Centre at University College London raise concerns that some teenagers may not realize they are overweight. The report, published in the International Journal of Obesity (2015; doi: 10.1038/ijo.2015.126), focuses on the self-re- ported weight perceptions of 4,979 boys and girls aged 13–15.
Researchers from the University of Essex in the U.K. have some troubling news to report: Fitness levels among U.K. schoolchildren are declining at a faster rate than ever. A 2009 study found a drop in fitness levels of about 0.8% over the original study 10 years earlier,
in 1998. Between 2009 and 2014, just 6 years later, that drop rate increased to 0.95%.
Health and fitness professionals are important players in a nationwide movement to promote and support physical literacy, which in turn will help to set the stage for a healthier, more active, more productive generation of children
hey’re doing either too little or too much.
For U.S. youth, that’s the stark paradox of physical activity. While
more than half of adolescents fail to accumulate the recommended 60
minutes of exercise at least 5 days per week (CDC 2015), many young
athletes are becoming specialized too early in life, which fosters a
culture of elite sports that discourages broad participation.
If you want to coach youth to reach their sports training goals, consider these eight keys to quality youth development, created by educators at the University of Minnesota Extension:
HELP YOUTH FEEL PHYSICALLY AND EMOTIONALLY SAFE.
Trainer’s tip: Set boundaries and expectations with both the clients and their parents early on. Be a good role model and create a safe environment.
Did you know that where you live may be more important than your family tree in predicting health disparities and health longevity?
Osteoporosis is a significant concern for the aging population. A new study suggests the risk can be offset by development of lean muscle in childhood.
Researchers from the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center may have a solution for inactivity among kids: Pair an inactive child with an active buddy.
Youth are flocking to fitness classes as parents face concerns over inactivity, obesity, sports injuries and performance. Instructors are learning to cater to the vast needs of this market, and it can be difficult to create a safe environment where all children can participate, get results and have a good time. While challenges will always exist in group classes, some simple strategies, particularly during the first few minutes, can turn frustration into fun.
Engagement and Physical Literacy
Today’s fast-paced, digital world pressures children to grow up fast. Instead of running around grassy playgrounds, most of them live highly structured lives, shuttling from one organized activity to the next, often while playing with hyper-stimulating devices. For school-age children, homework, peer pressure, teasing, poor grades, bullying, parental demands and isolation can all trigger stress (White
Kathleen Tullie, director of social purpose at Reebok International, is the cofounder and executive director of BOKS (Build Our Kids’ Success). The physical activity program aims to jump-start children’s brains, improving academic performance and overall health by promoting exercise and nutrition knowledge. The program is run by moms, dads, teachers and volunteers, 2–3 days a week before or during school.
Did you know that throughout the United States there are currently more than 35 million active athletes aged 5–18 competing in youth sports (Statistic Brain 2014)? That means there is a growing opportunity for personal trainers to offer services in a new way.
We know that the right home environment can lay a strong foundation for health and fitness. Help your clients improve their kids’ health with these suggestions from IDEA member Jennifer Salter, director of Lifeline Personal Training in Toronto:
Sometimes the best ideas are born of necessity. Dina Kimmel, a mother of two, experienced difficulty finding ways to support her autistic son’s development, so she took on the challenge herself and created a “sensory gym” in her home. After seeing her son’s success with it, Kimmel decided that this type of setting should be available to others, and she opened the first We Rock the Spectrum Kid’s Gym® for All Kids in Tarzana, California.
Evidence is mounting that fit kids perform better than their unfit peers on a variety of learning tasks.
In a study conducted recently at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, researchers evaluated children as they performed reading and language comprehension exercises while wearing electrode caps. Fitness levels varied among the children, and these devices allowed the scientists to evaluate brain activity.
Do your kids fall short of achieving the recommended 60 minutes of daily exercise? Though the weather may be turning cold (if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere), researchers suggest that sending children outside to play may boost weekly activity levels. Just make sure you keep kids bundled up!