Make’m sweat—helping our kids be healthy

Jonathan Riley, Digby Courier
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The DARC side - a column by Cara Sunderland

Teens need 60 minutes of moderate to intense physical activity per day at least six days a week for healthy growth and development.

You may have heard the term “childhood obesity” over the last couple of years. In the recreation profession childhood obesity is now often referred to as an epidemic or crisis. Crisis is a harsh word that Wikipedia explains will lead to an unstable or dangerous situation. Unfortunately the shoe fits.

Only six per cent of boys and two per cent of girls between the ages of 15 and 19 get 60 minutes of moderate to intense physical activity per day at least six days a week.

This should be the kind of activity that increases their heart rate and works up a sweat. This is the nationally recommended amount of physical activity required for healthy growth and development for teens through the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology.

Congratulations to the six per cent of teenage boys and two per cent of teen age girls who meet this standard.

It seems to me there are more than enough benefits to encourage teens to be physically active. Increased time being physically active is associated with better academic achievement, body image and self-esteem as well as higher levels of endurance and strength. These things should be important to teens, right?

Than why did the percentage of youth aged 15 – 18 that participated in sport drop from 77 per cent in 1992 to 59 per cent in 2005?

I spoke with a class of grade 11 students recently and they told me there is nothing for them to do. I was baffled. What? Nothing to do?

If you didn’t make the basketball team or soccer is not your thing, that’s okay. There is physical activity beyond organized sports.

Non-competitive, low organized physical activities such as public skating, open gym and open curling are great activities. What about snowshoeing or skiing? Hiking, walking or running? Spring will soon be making an appearance and along with it biking and skateboarding.

There has to be a way to get inactive teens out from the space they feel safe in and develop comfort levels within active environments.

Digby Area Recreation is trying to address this with after school programs that are based around physical activity such as run clubs and gals on the go.

The Fundy YMCA has opened some of their programming for teens to non-members with no cost to attend. If you have a teenager in your life, talk to them about the benefits of physical activity and the barriers they face.

Do they know where to find what activities are going on? Do they feel like they have the right equipment or finances to participate?

Help them find answers and set them on the right path living a physically active lifestyle. You will be helping them get out of the house today and decreasing their risk of diseases such as obesity, diabetes and certain types of cancer later in life.

If you are unsure of how to answer some of their questions, contact the recreation department at 245-5006.

Organizations: Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology

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Recent comments

  • Haydan Titus
    February 27, 2014 - 23:32

    I know for me personally when I was younger adults would get mad if us kids would bike down on the islands at times. Which to this day I still don't understand. And when we tried to rent our local firehall to play ball hockey or basket ball we would get turned down every time. The desire is there for a lot of us, just not the resources. I spend most of my time now hiking and a ton of canoeing and rowing in the summer as I really enjoy it. In school physical activity is highly undersuported and down on the islands there isn't always enough people for organized sports. Also, we can't play sports outside at lunch any more at school. It is a real shame, but its the way it is. Us kids don't get the support we need. I've tried for change most of my life, but not all adults don't see the need I guess.