Health Canada's minimum recommendation for physical activity in children is moderate to vigourous activity for at least 60 mins per day. EVERYDAY! Recent statistics show that ONLY 14 % of children get the minimum per day, and the numbers fall as they enter into their teens (3.5%), as habits and appetite for physical activity are just not there.
As parents, educators and other caregivers of our youngsters we should be aware of what this means for the future. As our sedentary children and youth grow into adults, their non-activity-induced-health problems will become such a drain on our health care system as heart disease (I predict) will no longer become a 50+ persons disease. We will be shocked to see people as young as 30 (and younger!!!) getting diagnosed with it, just like we are now seeing type 2 diabetes in juveniles (http://www.diabetes.ca/get-involved/news/more-canadian-adolescents-are-being-diagnosed-with-type-2-diabetes-than-eve/).
Physical inactivity creates overweight and obese people. This is fact. If your caloric intake is MORE then your caloric expenditure ( you eat more energy then you expel), the calories get stored into fat tissue, saved up by your body. This changes your body's composition ratio (BMI) from lean tissue to fatty tissue. An obese person reportedly experiences a 50 % increase in lost work productivity and visits a doctor 88 % more than a healthy person during a six-year period in the United States (Wolf and Colditz, 1994). This creates a situation in which the chronically ill person (from health conditions caused by obesity, heart disease, etc) essentially requires more health care, creating a drain on economic resources. They are contributing less taxes to the economy to help pay for health care (in a Canadian universal health care system) by their loss in productivity. Therefore, our healthcare system will in turn have less money to spend on them! This, and an already aging population (meaning less taxpayers to begin with as Western societies are having less children), our children are paying less and using more! WE ARE IN TROUBLE!
So enough doomsday talk- lets get proactive about what we can do to reverse this. Physical Inactivity doesn't have to stay that way. BUT IT NEEDS TO START TODAY! We can start increasing what we do. Therefore what our children will do and follow. This will benefit us and them as the more activity we do, it will have a physical effect on us as well. As their leaders, teachers, caregivers and parents we can set the standard for fun, physical fitness. We can create healthy habits within ourselves that our children will model and develop as their own so that we aren't creating an unhealthy future population! We need our children to be more then productive, healthy taxpayers. We need them to be happy and healthy, disease and stress free-everything exercise is a prescription for.
This Christmas, I encourage everyone to skip out on the tablets, movies, video/computer games. If you are the family that participates in having christmas under the tree, focus on giving presents of swimming lessons or soccer gear, or skis and toboggans. This Christmas Day get out for an hour while dinner is cooking and moderately-vigourously exercise with your children/grandchildren, breaking a sweat, laughing and enjoying the natural release of endorphins (happy hormones). DO THIS EVERYDAY! Start putting down the remotes, picking up a ball and moving. If we can't find time to incorporate and lead our children's physical activity into our daily routine, OUR healthcare won't find time for us in the future.