Physically active parents have more active children.
If you are like many health-conscious people, fitness has become part of your identity. Your regular workout is time you look forward to and rely on to keep you feeling balanced and at your best. But if you have children, this positive habit affects your kids as well.
A study at Boston University, published by The Journal of Pediatrics found that parents who were more active on a daily basis saw this activity level reflected in their children from a very young age.
Why it makes a difference
Busy parents are often teaching their kids the fine points of physical activity without even realizing it. Young children are perceptive and tune into the mood changes that occur in Mom and Dad when they are stressed out after a long day before beginning a workout. When Mom and Dad are suddenly calmer and more relaxed after completing a fitness session, kids feel it.
If you train with your kids, that’s even better. Exercising with your children can influence their enjoyment of physical activity to help create lifelong healthy habits, according to a study recently published in The Journal of Pediatrics. This can be anything from bringing your little ones along on your next run to playing soccer together at the park.
The parental involvement doesn’t even have to be literal; similar results were found when parents were just supervising children’s activity from the sidelines. Being present and in the moment with your child is key to develop this positive association with physical fitness.
Benefits of physical activity for kids
Aside from just building a lifelong healthy habit, there are plenty of other reasons to help your child maximize their activity levels. There are benefits from mind, body and overall well-being perspectives.
Better performance in school
Physical activity strengthens neural connections, increases nerve cell multiplication and boosts overall brain power in children. These brain benefits help to improve a wide range of brain functions, most notably learning capabilities. In a review of 14 studies examining the correlation between physical activity level and academic performance — published by the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine — it’s clear the more movement school-aged kids get, the more likely they are to perform better in school.
Improved weight control
Just as with adults, increased activity helps kids improve their weight control. While kids often experience fluctuating appetites due to growth spurts, it’s still crucial to burn calories on a daily basis to maintain an internal balance and a healthy weight.
Superior sleep habits
The more energy your kids are expelling throughout the day, the better they will sleep at night. A study in Australia and New Zealand on this subject found that every hour spent in a sedentary manner adds at least three minutes to the time that it takes for that child to get to sleep at night.
Sleep is important to your child’s health and well-being. Poor sleep increases the risk of obesity and has also been linked to reduced cognitive performance.
Frequent and varied movement helps balance your child’s mood and boosts overall levels of happiness. In fact, regular exercise is just as effective in the treatment for depression as drugs and psychotherapy, according to a study conducted at Duke University.
Your child doesn’t have to struggle with depression to enjoy the mood-enhancing benefits of physical activity. Mood swings can affect kids of all ages, most notably teens, thanks to constantly fluctuating hormonal changes.
Be a fit and active parent for fit and active kids.
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