Over the last few decades, electronics such as computers, television, and tablets have taken over as the main source of entertainment, including for children as young as toddlers! While these sources of entertainment are usually geared toward learning and brain stimulation, and parents love them because they help keep children quietly entertained and in one location, which reduces the amount of energy spent closely watching their activities; these forms of entertainment take away from alternative, more active, forms of activity that are critical to children’s growth and development. The effects of a sedentary childhood can be devastating. Here, we will discuss some of the negative effects of a sedentary childhood.
Nearly 40 percent of American children are overweight or obese, which has nearly tripled since the 1970s and current trends predict the rates to continue to rise. While this can be attributed to a diet high in sugar and processed foods, it also has a lot to do with a shift in our culture from the days when children would be called home for dinner from a long day playing and exploring outside with their friends, to one ruled by screen time. Physical activity is also more limited in public schools and left more to extracurricular activities that not all children have the opportunity to participate in. The problem with childhood obesity is that it causes a multitude of health concerns such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, and a host of bone and joint problems. Additionally, childhood obesity has a high likelihood of transferring over to become adult obesity, and unhealthy behaviors lead to a long list of medical concerns.
A sedentary lifestyle, regardless of what activity is used to pass the time, leaves a child much less engaged and interactive than those children who live active lifestyles. Sedentary lifestyles for children and adults alike means less interaction with other people. In childhood, socialization is critical to developing normal social habits and developmental learning. When a child spends their childhood in a sedentary state, their social interactions are limited. This has the tendency to lead to an awkward adulthood, and even anxiety when faced with the “real world.” Poor social skills put a person at a disposition to not be as successful as their social peers and may lead to a lack of close personal relationships.
Regardless of weight, a sedentary lifestyle leads to a wide range of health problems including circulation disorders, early arthritis, muscle atrophy, asthma and other pulmonary disorders, cardiovascular disease, and bone and joint disorders caused by a lack of use. Cancer risks are increased by more than 32 percent in people of all ages who have a sedentary lifestyle, which is more concerning when the trends begin young because it is unlikely to change. Mental health concerns are increased in those who live sedentary lifestyles, and especially so in children, because of the lack of stimulation in the brain. Overall, the negative health risks are dramatically increased in sedentary children as opposed to their active counterparts.
Children who live a sedentary lifestyle are usually engaged by screen electronics. These forms of entertainment often do the thinking for the child and limit their own natural creativity. While you may associate creativity as the ability to color within the lines of a coloring book and not find much value in it, creativity is expressed in a multitude of ways in children that are important to the healthy growth and development of the brain. For instance, playing house, dress up, writing stories, coloring or craft time, and completing puzzles all help children to tap into the reasoning and problem-solving areas of the brain. Without active stimulation, children will lack these skills in adulthood in addition to the creative abilities to do simple tasks such as create meals, decorate their apartment, or even come up with Christmas gift ideas.
So, what can you do to help prevent your children from living a sedentary lifestyle? Let them play! Restrict screen time and encourage your children to play like kids. Perhaps this means shooing them into the backyard or into a playroom where they can express their creativity through hands-on, active playtime. Take your children outside, to the park, the lake, or for a walk around the neighborhood. Ensure they get the recommended amount of physical activity daily and weekly. Enroll your children in extracurricular activities, whether it is a cinema club or karate, getting them out of the house and actively engaged with others will keep them active.
One of the best things you can do to help keep your kids active is to set the example and live an active lifestyle yourself! Additionally, this also has great health benefits for you! For a healthy, active outlet, you and your children can come to jump around at Rebounderz indoor trampoline park in Sacramento! Just one hour of trampoline jumping is the physical equivalent to running a half marathon, but much more fun! Stop by our Sacramento location today!