Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Get Moving for you and your children

I am greatly impressed by the number of parents who are athletes in my son’s class. We have several accomplished marathoners, triathletes, cyclists, swimmers and runners. This school is home to many parents who exercise regularly. What great role models!

While training for a triathlon or marathon is not for everyone, moving your body on a daily basis is necessary to remain healthy. But why is exercise important? Here are reasons why you will want to take a brisk (pump up your heart) walk in the park based on recent scientific studies:
· Exercise reduces the risk of coronary heart disease and some cancers in women
· Men who exercise have a reduced risk of dying from both cardiovascular disease and cancer.
· Aerobic exercise helps overweight hypertensive adults lower their blood pressure, as well as improving their overall cardiovascular response to mental stress, another risk factor for heart disease.
· Being out of shape increases the risk of premature death including risk factors such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity.
· Exercise may be protective against the development of Alzheimer's disease.
· Those who took brisk walks 45 minutes three times week for 6 months performed substantially better on several cognitive tasks than those who did stretching or strengthening exercises.
· Regular exercise is one of the best ways to combat daily stress.
· Exercise may be effective in reducing the perception of pain, even among those with chronic pain in the lower back.
· Being active may reduce the number of colds people get each year.
· Exercisers were perceived to be healthy, muscular and sexually attractive, while non-exercisers were perceived to be sickly, scrawny, and sexually unattractive.

Many of these studies found that the improvements were attributed to cardio exercise (exercise that increases your heart rate) rather than stretching and strength training. However, stretching and strength training should also be a part of your exercise routine. Keeping your body flexible will reduce the risk of injuries while strength training is important for maintaining muscle mass, reducing the risk of bone disease and improving your metabolism.

But my favorite reason why parents should exercise is because we are role models for our children. Those children who see their parents leave the apartment early to go to the gym or park before work understand that exercise is something that should be incorporated into your life. It is an ordinary part of their life to move their body daily.

Why should children exercise? A child who is active will have stronger muscles and bones, be less likely to become overweight, decrease the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, possibly lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels and have a better outlook on life. Kids who are physically fit sleep better and are better able to handle the physical and emotional challenges that a typical day presents - be that running to get to school on time, bending down to tie a shoe, or concentrating in class. For kids, exercise can be as easy as running around the playground, playing ball or tag with their friends, riding their bike with their mom or dad.

So let’s get moving for our health and the health of our children.

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