a group of kids playing with a ball in a grassy field

How Exercise Helps Fight Childhood Obesity

Childhood obesity has become a global epidemic in the age of processed foods and sedentary lifestyles. Luckily, research has emerged that shows how learning about exercise at a young age and engaging in intentionally active lifestyles with our families can serve as both a treatment and prevention for childhood obesity.

Read on to learn more about how to fight childhood obesity and the specific benefits of exercise in childhood.

What Is Childhood Obesity?

Childhood obesity refers to the number of people under age 18 who have a body mass index in the overweight or obese range (defined by the ratio of their height to their weight). If you're a concerned parent, consider speaking to your pediatrician if you have questions about whether your child's weight falls into the normal range.

Why is the number of children who struggle with obesity on the rise? Two factors play into this increase over recent decades: the type of food most children eat and the amount of exercise they get.

Healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and responsibly raised fresh meat, seafood and dairy have become more expensive and harder to access. Meanwhile, heavily processed foods containing lots of added fats, sugars, preservatives, and artificial chemicals are cheap and widely available.

On the physical activity front, children participate in less active free play and spend more time inside playing video games. This trend has arisen partly out of safety concerns: it's not like those 1950's sitcoms where elementary-aged children played outdoors freely with others with no supervision. Moreover, not all families have the option for children to participate in sports or other organized physical activities, either. Hence, childhood obesity is affecting more people than ever before.

What Are The Dangers Associated With Childhood Obesity?

Understanding the dangers associated with this condition makes it clear why we need to fight childhood obesity where it already exists and actively find ways to prevent childhood obesity when we can. There are two links between childhood obesity and specific health conditions later in life: cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

Cardiovascular disease refers to conditions of the heart. When arteries are clogged or weak, hearts can't pump blood efficiently to the whole body, leading to heart attacks.

Type 2 diabetes is when the pancreas can't make enough insulin to effectively process the sugar a person has eaten. Having blood sugar that is too high or too low can be extremely dangerous. Type 2 indicates the difference between people who are born with the condition (they're type 1) and the type who get it later in life due to their lifestyle.

Together, increases in these two conditions lead to a lower life expectancy. If we want our children to live long, healthy, happy lives, it's important to fight childhood obesity with exercise.

The Importance Of Exercise As Prevention and The Health Benefits Of Regular Physical Activity

The National Library of Medicine reports that exercise provides a significant reduction in mortality. People who exercise daily are proven to have better life expectancy outcomes and less instances of diabetes and heart disease.

Importantly, with all people and especially with children, it's important to focus on health and health outcomes when advocating for exercise rather than weight reduction for appearance reasons.

A study published by the European Childhood Obesity Group and the European Academy of Pediatrics cites the WHO statistic that less than 20% of adolescents globally get enough physical activity. One of the benefits of exercise in childhood is that it's one of the best, easiest ways to prevent childhood obesity. Learning about the importance of exercise at an early age can help fight childhood obesity.

Fun, Active Family Activities

It starts at home. Increasing the amount of physical activity in the lives of young people will be directly influenced by their primary caregivers. Luckily, there are many fun activities that families can do together to fight childhood obesity, keep children active and engaged, and experience the benefits of exercise in childhood. We know it sounds exhausting, and sometimes all a caregiver wants to do is flop on the couch with their phone.

Check out this list for a few ways to prevent childhood obesity that also have health benefits for adults!

● Go To The Park

When you have limited time and energy, a quick trip around the local park can be just what kids and adults alike need to burn off some energy.

● Walk Around Your Neighborhood

Checking out houses, flowers, and people can provide endless entertainment, as can planning new pathways to get from one place to another. Make it a scavenger hunt and check off different types of cars or trees along the way, all while getting your steps in as a family.

● Explore A New Place

Drive somewhere your child hasn't been very often before like a local downtown area or a different park than usual. Being in a new environment while exploring and playing can add a new level of interest and fun!

● Ride Bikes

If you or your child don't know how, it's a great time to learn! Bike riding is a skill that requires lots of balance and physical attention so it's great for learners and bike-lovers alike.

● Take Swimming Lessons

Another fun way to get your body moving with your child is to teach them to swim. This skill can be life saving in a water emergency, but it can also be a lot of fun to kick, splash, and race across the pool.

● Volunteer At An Animal Shelter

If you have an animal lover on your hands, find a local shelter that needs help and allows parents to bring kids as a learning experience. Animal care is hard physical labor that often involves shoveling, washing, scoping, bending, and running after the animals. Bonus points if you're trying to show a kiddo who desperately wants a pet the real-life challenges involved!

Now that you know exercise is one of the key ways to prevent childhood obesity, get out there and fight childhood obesity by exercising with your family!

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For more information about the commercial playground equipment offered at EcoPlay Structures, contact us by calling 470-280-7529 or email grierb@ecoplaystructures.com today.

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