The reduction in the amount of daily activity children are exposed to is commonly reported. Recess is under threat in schools, parents are less inclined to allow their children to roam outside and play, and the pervasive impact of technology on the active lives of our youth is generating real concern. Exercise is important and the benefits are widely understood.
Exercise is an important part of keeping children healthy. Encouraging healthy lifestyles in children and adolescents is important for when they grow older. Lifestyles that are learned in childhood are more likely to stay with the child into adulthood. Some changes in lifestyle can be harder to make the older the person becomes.
The following are just some of the benefits that regular exercise or physical activity provides:
- Improves blood circulation throughout the body
- Keeps weight under control
- Improves blood cholesterol levels
- Prevents and manages high blood pressure
- Prevents bone loss
- Boosts energy level
- Releases tension
- Improves the ability to fall asleep quickly and sleep well
- Improves self-image
- Helps manage stress
- Counters anxiety and depression
- Increases enthusiasm and optimism
- Increases muscle strength
One of these benefits has been outlined in a recent study accepted for publication in The Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM) – exercise may play a key role in helping children cope with stressful situations. The findings suggest physical activity plays a role in mental health by buffering children from the effects of daily stressors.
What Role Does Camp Play in Providing Daily Exercise for Children?
Kids at day camp are getting more than the recommended amount of physical activity each day, according to a new study, “Children’s Moderate to Vigorous Physical Activity Attending Summer Day Camps,” published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine. Seven professors from various universities in South Carolina, North Carolina, and Arizona studied more than 1,000 campers at summer day camps in the Southeast where enrollment was equal to, or greater than, 50 campers.
The study asserts that, outside of regular school, summer day camps are the largest setting where kids can be physically active. According to the results, more than 70% of boys and girls at day camps (aged 5-12) are getting over the recommended amount of 60 minutes per day of vigorous physical activity. Project those findings into the residential summer camp environment and imagine what type of results would be seen. Clearly, the majority of young people who attend summer camp are experiencing vigorous amounts of physical activity each day. Those of us who attended camp, or have provided the opportunity to children or grandchildren have known this to be true for many years – this study provides the empirical evidence that allows those not familiar with the benefits of camp to begin to understand some of the physical benefits also.
The authors of this study conclude by calling on public health practitioners to focus efforts on making camps accessible for kids throughout the U.S., and the John Austin Cheley Foundation could not agree more.