September is just around the corner! That means your children will be looking towards a fresh start to the school year. A great way to start off is easing your children into a physically active lifestyle in order to stay fit, help with concentration, and maintain a healthy spine as they grow. Unfortunately, in Canada, physical inactivity is quickly becoming a key factor in the epidemic of childhood obesity, which is known to lead to long-term risk for chronic diseases. More so, studies have found that a decrease in physical activity can have a profound impact on the musculoskeletal (MSK) system and function as children, and later in life.1,2,3 Introducing physical activity to your children from a young age can increase the likelihood of adopting healthy habits and maintaining activity when older.
According to guidelines developed by the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology, youth within the age groups of 5-11 years of age and 12-18 years of age should engage in some form of physical activity that strengthens muscle and bones for at least 3 days per week4. Since most schools offer various opportunities for sports and recreational physical activity, it is important to encourage your child to get involved where they can. That being said, it is not uncommon for some children to shy away from competitive sports, so instead you may want to, as a family, schedule leisurely walks or active outings.
Being active can help children maintain a healthy weight, cope with stress, build strong bones, and maintain flexibility and good posture. Sports and even light activity throughout the day is a great way to enhance health for your child and the entire family.
Here are some ways your child can benefit from physical activity this school year:
1. Download the Straighten Up Canada app
This free app features videos specifically for youth. The series is a three minute program that will help them work toward introducing movement and better posture, and can be implemented as part of an active, healthy lifestyle. Have them give it a try in the morning before they head to school or to re-energize after a long day of class – the beauty of Straighten Up is that it allows you to make use of it at your convenience!
2. Enroll them in an activity or sporting program
Recreational activity for youth is a great way for them to enjoy the benefits of physical activity. There are lots of opportunities for children to be physically active during the school year. Increasing physical activity can actually increase energy, which means children can better focus on their studies during the school year.
3. Help them achieve healthy posture
Having good posture will help improve breathing and circulation, and lessen additional strain on joints and muscles. The Straighten Up Canada app can help them improve their posture, or you can assist them with some tips from CCA.
4. Getting Enough Rest
While it’s great for children to be engaged in physical activity, remember that getting adequate rest is important too. A good night’s sleep will help your child thrive, feeling recharged and energized to tackle the challenges of the day.
It’s important to encourage our children to live a healthy life so they can develop strong joints and muscles to support their spine and prevent debilitating musculoskeletal (MSK) injuries as they get older. By following some of the tips above, your child will be more likely have a safe, fun and active school year, performing their best in and out of the classroom. Talk to your chiropractor about other ways your child can benefit from a healthy lifestyle and chiropractic treatments.
1. Krul, M. et al. (2009). Musculoskeletal problems in overweight and obese children. Annals of Family Medicine, 7(4): 352-356. 2. Kim, J., Must, A., Fitzmaurice, G.M., et al. Relationship of physical fitness to prevalence and incidence of overweight among schoolchildren. Obes Res. 2005;13(7):1246–1254. 3. Minck, M.R., Ruiter, L.M., Van Mechelen, W., Kemper, H.C., & Twisk, J.W. Physical fitness, body fatness, and physical activity: The Amsterdam Growth and Health Study. Am J Hum Biol. 2000;12(5):593–599.[PubMed] 4. Canadian Society for Exercise and Physiology. (2015). Canadian Physical Activity and Sedentary Behavior Guidelines Handbook. Retrieved from http://www.csep.ca/CMFiles/Guidelines/CSEP_Guidelines_Handbook.pdf