Most aren’t getting enough, and this study says it will cost us trillions of dollars, in the long run.
Chances are high that if you have kids, they aren’t getting enough exercise. According to a recent article in the New York Times, more than two-thirds of America’s children are sedentary and get no exercise at all.
This isn’t the way it used to be. My grandmother told stories of riding horse back to school, and pulling pranks like letting the pigs loose on the farm, for fun. But that spirit seems to be long gone.
These days, kids ages 2-5 watch about 32 hours of TV each week. That’s almost a full work week! Kids 6-11 spend about 28 hours in front of the TV and 71% of those aged 8-18 have a TV in their bedroom.
So, basically our young ones are spend between 4 and 5 hours a day watching a screen.
Since most school aged kids spend about 6 of their waking hours at school and should be sleeping for roughly 10 hours a night, give or take, that leaves about 3 or 4 waking hours left for playing, eating, taking a bath, being driven around by parents and doing things like extra curriculars and reading.
Not that much, in the grand scheme of things. Experts recommend that kids get at least 60 minutes or more of aerobic exercise each day, with much of that being outside, but we seem to be falling far short.
What’s the result of our kids being sedentary? According to a recent study, the cost of our 8-11 year-olds being inactive and overweight is about $3 trillion. This includes medical expenses and lost productivity once these kids reach adulthood.
The study was done using a computer model and not real people, but it shows just how scary our habits actually are.
Can we change?
Of course. In fact, with as little as 25 minutes of vigorous exercise done three times a week by the sedentary kids in the model, the cost to society dropped by more than $30 billion. $30 billion!
The easiest way to get some exercise into your kids’ routine is to take them to a nearby park, or venture into the back yard.
Bring a skipping rope, and a friend. If there isn’t a friend available, make a new one at the park or find a fence or tree to attach the skipping rope to. You can even bring some music, to jump along to.
If you have a low-traffic area nearby or good sidewalks, jump on a bike with your kids. Go for a ½ ride before or after dinner. Check out the nearby river or a ravine-you’ll be surprised at how entertaining it can actually be.
Or, if vigorous activity isn’t something that’s in the cards just yet, start by going for a walk with your child.
Better yet, send them with siblings or friends to walk to the store for a few groceries, if you feel they’re old enough. There’s safety in numbers and it’s a great, simple way to get them away from those screens.
Once you start getting some exercise into your kids’ lives and your own, you’ll find you want even more.
Kids will ask for outside time- they just need a chance to try it.
It’s unlikely that we’ll be riding horseback to school again any time soon. There’s plenty of room for your kids to make some new adventure stories on their own, though. We just need to open the door.
(photo credits: www.pixabay.com)