What is the atmosphere in your neighborhood? Are children running free, riding their bikes and playing tag or softball outside in the fresh air? The answer may very well be no, but it hasn’t been that long ago that this was the case. As the natural ways for children to play and be physically active have diminished it’s clear that children are not getting enough exercise.
This neighborhood of long ago, with the children laughing and playing games, was a product of the days of the stay at home mom, also a nearly archaic fixture. Children came home from school, had a snack and went out to play knowing there was parental supervision in every household.
Today both parents are working in most families. Children come home from school, have a few high caloric snacks and watch television, play video games or text their friends until mom or dad comes home. When a parent finally appears after a long day of work, the day is almost over. It’s time for dinner, homework, more television and bed.
The modern parent can hardly keep up with the bare essentials of survival let alone schedule and transport their children to organized sports – one of the ways children may be able to find physical activity. Many adults are unable to find ten minutes to devote to exercise themselves, to say nothing of making certain their children are exercising.
The organized recess periods in a school day are not necessarily geared for seeing that children are physically active. Balls, jump ropes and other equipment may be available but most recess periods are for a break from the classroom, not participation in physical games. Physical education classes hardly meet the need for exercise due to their short length and lack of frequency.
Unfortunately, it appears that adding children to the demographic of people who are not getting enough exercise must be done. If we see that children are physically active early on they have a better chance of making sure exercise becomes part of their lives as they get older. Without the early exposure to exercise future generations may be perpetuating dangerous sedentary lifestyles.
Sometimes it appears overwhelming to attempt fitting one more activity in a busy day. But if parents join children in physical activities they take care of the need for quality family time and exercise. The benefits of both of these additions to modern family life are innumerable.