We have long known how important regular exercise is to keeping us physically healthy.
Regular exercise may play a large role in keeping us mentally and emotionally healthy as well.
Adults who are battling depression are encouraged to exercise regularly. Chemicals released during exercise known as endorphins can lift our mood and make us less responsive to pain.
New studies have shown the same effects in relieving depression in children aged 7 to 11, a prime age for encouraging regular physical activity to avoid the problems of childhood obesity.
Even if a child does not lose weight, regular exercise will increase feelings of self-esteem which can lead to all sorts of benefits in the long run.
You may think that physical education or gym classes at school will ensure that your child gets enough activity.
Don’t count on it. With test scores becoming increasingly important to school survival, some schools are shortening the time allotted to gym and physical education in lieu of more academic pursuits.
The good news is that most children genuinely love to be active and play, and will do so with only a little encouragement.
One of the best ways to encourage physical activity is to limit “box” time: television, video game consoles, cell phone texting, etc. Or if your child is a die-hard video fan, consider using one of the more advanced game consoles that has fitness modules, like Wii Fit.
Otherwise, even family pursuits including bike riding, walking, and bowling encourage not only moderate physical activity, but family closeness.