Even preschool children do not get enough exercise in America. For the first time, the United States Agency for Disease…
For the first time, the United States Agency for Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP) has released federal guidelines for physical activity, fitness and health containing specific recommendations for preschool children between the ages of three and five years old. The 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, released this week (November 12), are the result of 21 months of research from an advisory committee consisting of 17 non-federal physical and health experts.
The guidelines recommend that preschool children are physically active for at least three hours a day. But the average American preschool does not meet that standard, according to available data. For example, a 201
5 study published in pediatricians looked at 98 preschools in 10 childcare in Seattle and found that they only received an average of approximately 48 minutes of exercise a day. It’s bad news for both children and their carers.
American children, including pre-school children, are becoming more sedentary – which can have devastating consequences for their physical and mental health. Childhood fat has more than tripled since the 1970s. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the lack of physical activity in children and adolescents may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, obesity, type 2 diabetes, low bone density and breast, colon, endometrial and lung cancer. There is also an important link between daily physical activity and better grades, school attendance and cognitive skills such as memory or concentration.
At the beginning of childhood, years before the child becomes six, the consequences can be even more difficult. These are the years that lay the foundation for healthy physical and emotional development in adulthood. A growing research group has identified specific benefits of early childhood physical activity, including healthier growth, better bones and heart health and improved social and cognitive skills. Therefore, the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend that parents and caregivers play an active role in “supporting and encouraging young children to be physically active and model participation in regular physical activity”.
The best way to do this is by encouraging young children to play Games can help children develop language, cognitive and executive skills, as well as teach them to interact in a group. But it is also important because it makes the children more active and helps them develop their creativity and imagination. Play is so crucial, in fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics in a recently published policy report suggested that pediatricians actually prescribe it. And if the latest guidelines for Americans are something to go along, these recipes are more eager than ever.
Learn more from our series about Rewiring Childhood . This reporting is part of a series supported by a contribution from the Bernard van Leer Foundation. The author’s views are not necessarily the Bernard van Leer Foundation.