Physical activity is an essential component of a healthy lifestyle. In combination with healthy eating, it can help prevent a range of chronic diseases, including heart disease, cancer, and stroke, which are the three leading causes of death. Physical activity helps control weight, builds lean muscle, reduces fat, promotes strong bone, muscle and joint development, and decreases the risk of obesity. Children need 60 minutes of play with moderate to vigorous activity every day to grow up to a healthy weight.
If this sounds like a lot, consider that eight to 18 year old adolescents spend an average of 7.5 hours a day using entertainment media including TV, computers, video games, cell phones, and movies in a typical day, and only one-third of high school students get the recommended levels of physical activity. To increase physical activity, today’s children need safe routes to walk and bike ride to school, parks, playgrounds, and community centers where they can play after school, and activities like sports, dance, or fitness programs that are exciting and challenging enough to keep them engaged.