There is a new epidemic targeting our young children and it’s called childhood obesity. Children are less active and consuming more junk food. The amount of “screen time” from TV, computers, Internet and video games contributes to the lack of physical activity and unhealthy eating choices. Diseases once thought to affect only adults—heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol—are now common in children. If this trend continues, children of this generation are not likely to live as long as their parents. Research shows that by influencing children early in their lives to adopt active and fit lifestyles and make healthy nutrition choices, childhood obesity can be prevented and even reversed. Childhood obesity also lowers self esteem, affects relationships with peers and contributes to poor self image. These social and psychological consequences impact children’s ability to feel accepted and learn.
One of the biggest reasons to get kids moving is because of the growing evidence that shows physical activity enhances brain function and academic performance. Physical activity fuels the brain with key nutrients, like oxygen and glucose. A lack of oxygen to the brain results in disorientation, confusion, fatigue, sluggishness, and concentration and memory problems. Moderate to vigorous physical activity gives the brain its needed nutrients. It improves short-term memory, creativity and reaction time. It not only increases blood flow to the brain, but also speeds recall and reasoning skills. Mental focus and concentration levels in young children improve significantly after engaging in structured physical activity. All things being equal, a physically active child will have an advantage in learning versus an inactive child. Fit kids are smart kids!