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Childhood obesity: An hour a day goes a long way

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  • By Science and Technology Staff
Physical activity is the key to a healthy lifestyle. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services advises that individuals between the ages of 6 and 17 should take part in at least one hour of exercise or physical activity each day. However, it seems that as children transition into adolescence, their participation in physical activity declines.

In a 2010 national survey, the Center for Disease Control reported that three out of four preteens participated in daily free-time physical activity during the week. By comparison only one of four high school students reported doing any exercise for at least one hour.

According to the CDC, aerobic activities should make up most of an adolescent's physical activity each day.

Moderate-intensity aerobic exercise includes actions such as walking to school or helping with housework. Activities like gymnastics, martial arts, or team sports are considered vigorous-intensity activities and are recommended at least three days per week.

Another type of physical activity involves muscle strengthening exercises like gymnastics, modified push-ups and sit-ups. A third category of physical activity is bone strengthening exercise, which can include running or team sports.

The benefits of exercise are not limited to improving your physical health; mental health also improves as a result.

Daily exercise promotes mental health by reducing depressive feelings and anxiety. It has also been proven to augment self-esteem as well as concentration and attentiveness, which improves overall academic performance in school.

Providing positive feedback and support remains one of the best ways to encourage physical health.

Exposing teens and children to a variety of activities, such as team and individual sports or recreational activities, allows them to choose for themselves. They can decide which activity they enjoy most, and it will foster a desire for an active lifestyle.