PTs to kids: Let’s get physical
Exercise does a growing body good
Alexandria, VA -- According to physical therapists, getting enough exercise is crucial for children's weight control as well for helping to prevent conditions like diabetes and osteoporosis.
"Fun and games is really a serious subject," said physical therapist Cindy Miles, PT, MEd, PCS, and chairwoman of the APTA Section on Pediatrics' Sports and Fitness Special Interest Group. "Children must engage in sustained exercise to stay fit and healthy."
APTA supports the recommendation of the U.S. Surgeon General that children need 60 minutes of moderate physical exercise most days.
Physical therapists also stand behind the recommendations made by the Centers For Disease Control that "all children, from pre-kindergarten through grade 12, should participate in quality physical education classes every school day."
According to the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, just 17 percent of middle and junior high school and two percent of senior high schools require daily physical activity for all students.
Physical therapists remind parents and educators that sustained physical activity is critical to children achieving cardiovascular fitness, as well as building bone mass and strength, an important factor in helping to prevent or minimize the effects of osteoporosis later in life. Other health benefits of exercise include weight management, reducing the risk for heart disease, and helping to prevent type II diabetes, which studies have shown is on the rise in children who lead a sedentary lifestyle.
Miles said that exercise was also a family affair.
"Parents can plan family activities in a safe environment where children can have fun and find support and encouragement."
According to Miles, when the family stays active, it is much easier for the child to stay healthy and adopt a lifelong healthy lifestyle.
"It is very difficult for children to develop healthy exercise habits and good nutrition without their parents' support."
Miles recommends that parents and educators reward children for exercising with such things as a family activity or sports item, rather than with food or the promise of a sedentary activity.
Exercise need not be limited to joining organized sports, Miles said, although group sports appeal to many children.
"Kids may prefer being active by themselves or with a friend and may enjoy activities like bicycling, jumping rope or even gardening. A lot of kids can benefit from merely walking the dog and spending no more than an hour at a time sitting," Miles said. "The important thing is to find something they enjoy and then 'mix it up' with other activities so they don't get bored."
Physical therapists say it is important to recognize that overweight or obese children have likely experience past failures with exercise.
"The guidance of a physical therapist who understands the difficulties that children may be encountering, who monitors their progress with their parents and who encourages them to persevere can often mean the difference between success and failure."
Physical therapists are experts in the examination and management of musculoskeletal and neuromuscular conditions that affect people's abilities to move the way they want and to function as well as they can in their daily lives. The cornerstones of physical therapist intervention are therapeutic exercise and functional training.
Jay Marquette and Carolyn Bloom are physical therapists, and Susan Sculley is a physical therapist assistant at Bloom and Associates Therapy in Eudora. The staff offers personalized exercise programs in cooperation with physician's recommendations.
-- Source: Press release from the American Physical Therapy Association
Submitted by Carolyn Bloom PT.