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Children should be taught benefits of exercise early on
AUGUSTA – According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, less than a third of American children are meeting recommended physical activity guidelines by the time they are 15 years old.
Physical inactivity is associated with an increase in obesity and associated illness and chronic diseases among youth. Expert opinion and studies suggest that children need a minimum of 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) per day, according to background information in the article. How many youth meet this standard is unclear.
Laura Hartmann, M.D., a pediatrician who practices at University Hospital, said it’s up to parents to encourage children to become more active.
“Parents should encourage an hour a day of ‘sweating’ exercise,” Dr. Hartmann said. “This is hard to achieve unless a parent sets it as a goal.”
Dr. Hartmann said getting children involved in sports at an early age, even as early as elementary school, helps instill a love of exercise.
“Kids who participate in the elementary grades are fit and confident to sign up for and play school sports when they are offered in middle and high school,” she said.