Researchers at the University of Georgia conducted a study that explores some of the most important aspects of fitness for young children.
According to their findings, parents should be less worried about their children’s body mass index (BMI) and put more emphasis on overall fitness. Their work revealed that children need to understand the health benefits of staying physically active.
“Research has shown that even in young children, people who are in better shape in terms of cardiorespiratory endurance participate in more intense physical activity,” said researcher Sam Yli-Piipari. âIt’s not really your weight that matters. Children can be a little overweight, but still stay relatively fit. ”
Priority to physical fitness
The researchers followed 450 Finnish children aged 10 to 12 by monitoring their physical activity using a portable device for a week. The children participated in 90 minutes of physical education (PE) at school and some also played sports after school. The researchers were more interested in how much fun children got from gym classes, and they also assessed children’s knowledge and ability to perform basic exercises.
Ultimately, the researchers learned that children with the best cardiorespiratory endurance were more likely to have the highest overall physical activity levels, regardless of their weight. This was true despite their strength, how much they enjoyed gym classes or how much their motor skills were developed.
However, the study also found that physical education in school was the only time many children engaged in physical activity, making that time even more precious. For those who did not participate in sports or extracurricular activities, overall activity levels were generally low.
âPhysical education matters,â said Yli-Piipari. âIt’s not just where students acquire the skills, abilities and motivation to be active; this is where students have to do something at a higher intensity than they probably would after school.
Researchers have recommended several ways for parents to approach physical activity with their children in a way that will encourage them to participate. To begin with, they explained that modeling healthy behavior for children is one of the best ways to keep them interested in an active lifestyle. They also suggest that parents try several different activities with their children in order to combat boredom and reinforce the benefits and importance of exercise.