Gone are the days where exercise classes for kids were limited to dance classes, gymnastics, and recreational activities, such as riding bicycles and playing ball games. Nowadays, new classes, specifically geared towards children, are becoming ever popular as a means to combat the escalation in childhood obesity statistics. These classes are basically kid-friendly forms of the classes we as adults love, such as Crossfit, Zumba and Yoga. This is because many gyms and other exercise studios have seen the need that there is to get our children active and thus, have incorporated classes that are designed to get our kids fit and healthy again.
The Benefits Of Exercise
We are constantly bombarded with the fact that we need fit and healthy bodies to prevent harmful diseases but while that is a major reason for staying fit, there are other advantages too. One of these extra benefits is that exercise improves academic performance. In one particular study done by the universities of Strathclyde and Dundee, they found that for every extra 17 minutes of exercise in boys and 12 minutes in girls, there was an increase in academic performance for English, Math and Science. The authors also found evidence suggesting the following:
Children who carried out regular exercise, not only did better academically at 11 but also at 13 and in their exams at 16.
So the more regularly children exercise the better they are able to perform academically as well. That does not mean that a sporty child will automatically be brainy but studies have shown that doing exercise has a positive effect on children’s brain functioning and cognitive (thinking) performance. Exercise also plays a role when it comes to your mood. You can go to gym feeling grumpy and stressed but when you come out you feel far better than when you went in. The reason for this good feeling is that during exercise “feel good” hormones (endorphins) are increased while stress hormones (cortisol) are decreased. Other hormones that play a role in making you feel good are serotonin, adrenalin and dopamine, which work together in generating that “feel good” feeling. There is no need to take a drug to calm you and help you obtain a “high”. All you need to do is hit the gym, exercise at a medium intensity for at least 30 minutes, and you can generate a natural high that lasts.
Some Other Benefits
When a child exercises, all the stresses and strains of the day fade away. This relaxed state enables a child to sleep better as well. Your child will not only be tired from the exercise but thanks to the decrease in cortisol, your child will feel relaxed enough to fall asleep and stay asleep. Another benefit of exercise is improvement in school attendance. The reason for this, according to the American College of Sports Medicine is that,
People who exercise report fewer colds than their inactive peers.
Surveys as well as studies have been done to prove this fact. It is believed that the reason for this is that during moderate exercise there are positive changes that occur in our immune system. While the immune system does return to pre-exercise levels quickly after exercise, each session is seen as a boost for the immune system that reduces the long term risk of infection.
Fun Exercise Classes For Kids
To combat the increasing obesity statistics there is now a move towards creating healthy habits in children from an earlier age than was done years ago. For obese children who are oftentimes not able to participate in traditional exercise activities, strength training is becoming a viable and more popular option, as is training with a personal trainer. Strength training also helps promote a child’s sense of achievement as well as boosts their confidence.
Over the years, gym instructors have steered clear of strength training exercises for kids, stating that it was unsafe and could stunt a child’s growth. This, however, has now been classified as a myth. Dr. Wayne Wescott, PhD, CSCS, fitness research director at the South Shore YMCA and instructor of exercise science at Quincy College together with Dr. Avery Faigenbaum, EdD, CSCS, professor in the department of health and exercise science at the College of New Jersey and the leading researcher and practitioner in pediatric exercise science, had this to say about strength training for children,
Strength training at sub-maximal loads (i.e., not exercising to failure or max capacity), can offer benefits and alternatives to other forms of exercise kids typically participate in.
Children, as young as 7 years old, can participate in strength training exercises say the experts, so long as each exercise is performed with the correct technique and under guidance of qualified instructors. Playing games, such as Tug-of-war, climbing trees or climbing ropes, are all beneficial forms of strength exercise that builds muscle and strength. Allowing children to play freely on climbing frames also helps them to build their strength. Exercise that mimics the way children move and play are far more beneficial and enjoyable. Exercise that has short bursts of high-effort movement with longer rest and recovery are preferred by most children. Exercise classes such as CrossFit, Yoga, Zumba, kick boxing, combination classes, as well as, teen weight-training classes, circuit training and strength and agility training, are becoming more and more popular.
Start Them Young
It is never too early to develop healthy habits in children. Start them young and they will learn habits that will take them into adulthood, confident, armed and ready to take on the world. There is no reason why we cannot change the prevalence of obesity in our world with the knowledge and expert scientific research that have gone into developing healthy habits. All it takes is that first step. Exercise and healthy living can only benefit our children and it should be the number one desire in the hearts of all parents to give their children the best. It costs nothing and only takes a bit of time to form the lasting habit of exercise.