With all of the new technology, it is not uncommon to hear that kids are spending three or more hours per day playing gaming consoles or virtual reality games, and watching tv or videos on their phones. This increase in screen time reduces a child’s physical activity level, muscular strength, and cardiorespiratory fitness level. Therefore, the child is more at risk for being overweight, which can negatively impact their physical, social, and mental health.
Research also suggests that 40% of children diagnosed with a disability are at a higher risk for being overweight and/or obese. Children with developmental delays are more likely to be overweight by age 3, when compared to typically developing peers. Obesity in children can impair the body’s ability to regulate glucose levels, and cause breathing and joint problems. These children are also at risk for depression, lower self-esteem, development of poor body image and poor social participation (Pizzi 2).
The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans 2nd Edition recommends that preschool children, ages 3-5 years old, should be encouraged to participate in structured activities and active play to help strengthen bones and prevent excessive fat. No precise amount of physical activity is stated; however, it is recommended that this age group participate in a variety of light, moderate and vigorous physical activity levels for 3 hours per day. Some recommended activities include; riding bikes, throwing/kicking a ball, playing on a jungle gym, swimming, and jumping rope, running (CDC.gov).
The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans 2nd Edition also recommends that children and adolescents, ages 6 – 17 years old, should participate in 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity daily. Throughout the week, activities should be a mix of aerobic, bone strengthening and muscle strengthening activities. Some recommended activities include; cleaning/chores around the home, backyard games (basketball, tennis, tag), swimming, push-ups, tug of war, jump rope, running, and planks (CDC.gov).
If you would like additional information regarding The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans 2nd edition, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and prevention at the following link: https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/index.htm .
“Physical Activity Basics.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2 July 2019, https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/index.htm.
Pizzi, M. A. (2016). Guest Editorial—Promoting health, well-being, and quality of life for children who are overweight or obese and their families. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 70, 7005170010. http://dx.doi.org/10.5014/ ajot.2016.705001
-Brittany Stout, MOT, OTR/L