May is set aside as National Physical Fitness and Sports month, and for a good reason — people of all ages and body types can gain health benefits from regular physical activity. The US Department of Health and Human Services states that not only can physical activity improve muscular fitness and bone and heart health in children and adolescents, it can also lower the risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some types of cancer in adults. If that’s not enough to get you and your kids moving, here are some facts to give you that extra push:

  1. Get fit and get smart. Exercise increases energy levels and increases serotonin in the brain, which leads to improved mental clarity.
  2. Your natural energy source. Exercise makes you feel more energized because it releases endorphins into the blood.
  3. Relax your mind. Movement in exercise helps relieve stress by producing a relaxation response which serves as a position distraction.
  4. Burn, baby, burn. For every pound of muscle gained, the body burns 50 extra calories every day.
  5. Help your heart. If you are 25 pounds overweight, you have nearly 5,000 extra miles of blood vessels through which your heart must pump blood.
  6. Get real. Nine out of 10 parents think their kids are fit, when only one out of three actually are.
  7. Avoid the consequences. According to the U.S. Surgeon General, 300,000 deaths every year can be attributed to obesity.
  8. Live longer. A moderate level of physical activity, such as walking 30 minutes a day, can lengthen life by 1.3 years.
  9. There is no I in TEAM. Team sports can benefit kids by teaching them respect, humility, responsibility, self-esteem, and socialization, all while being active.

There are many options available to partake in physical activity. The key is to make small changes,and set realistic goals such as going on a bike ride around the neighborhood or taking a walk after dinner. More importantly, do what you love! When you find something you enjoy doing, you’ll be much more motivated to do it regularly. There are 1,440 minutes in every day. Certainly you can schedule 30 of them for physical activity!

National Physical Fitness and Sports Month inspiration

Image credit: “Kids Exercise Programs near East Taunton MA” by Morgan Forester

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