Being physically active is one of the most important steps that you can take to improve your health. Experts agree that inactivity and poor eating habits contribute to obesity. Obese children and adolescents are at risk for health problems during their youth and as adults. Organized youth sports provide for regular physical activity and help combat increasing rates of childhood obesity.
The second week in July is designated National Youth Sports Week to coincide with the National Recreation and Park Association's celebration of Recreation and Parks Month. Both are health observances that encourage and recognize physical activity. When U.S. Rep. Mike McIntyre, D-N.C., presented the National Youth Sports Week Resolution to the full House of Representatives for vote, his idea was that National Youth Sports Week be established to promote awareness of the importance of youth sports and the need to restore the focus in youth sports on the child's experience and character development.
As a parent, you don't expect your child to finish the sporting season as an Olympic athlete. During the sporting season, they gain knowledge of the game and better their skills, but they get more than that. National Youth Sports Week was passed to bring awareness to children, coaches, parents, fans and officials of the experience the child gains and to promote sportsmanship.
Children participating in organized sports tend to perform better in school, develop interpersonal skills and social skills, the importance of teamwork, and lead healthier lives. Organized sports help children increase their self-esteem, become leaders within the community and gain an appreciation of health and fitness.
Far too many children quit participating in youth sports at a young age. They don't find the enjoyment in the sport or the dedication to keep at it. National Youth Sports Week and Recreation and Parks Month are recognized with the hope of bringing back the enjoyment and involvement of facilities and games across the country.
As a parent, you can help shape your child's attitude and behavior toward physical activity, and knowing a few basics is a great place to start. Throughout their lives, encourage young people to be physically active for one hour or more each day, with activities ranging from informal, active play to organized sports. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides these tips for encouraging your child:
By participating in regular physical activity you gain the health benefits it provides such as weight control; reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers; strengthening your bones and muscles; and most importantly increasing your chances of living longer.
It's never too late to start exercising - young or old. Enroll your child on a sports team, gymnastics or a dance class. Adults can simply start a walking routine. Start small and slow. What's important is that you avoid being inactive. Go to the park to enjoy the day with some activity, games, and fun with your family. Summer is an easy time to get off of your exercise routine. Make the commitment to do it together as a family. Help your child make a difference in their life and give them the opportunity to experience something new and develop their character skills.
Marissa Kinseth is a wellness educator in Trinity Regional Medical Center's Healthy Living Department. She has a B.A. in fitness management.