Physical activity for children and teenagers: what and how much to grow healthy and have fun?

Physical activity for children and teenagers: what and how much to grow healthy and have fun?


OfMaria Giovanna Faiella

Move, even while playing, at least 60 minutes a day doing aerobic activity and, 3 times a week, exercises to strengthen the musculoskeletal system. Advice from the experts of the Istituto Superiore di Sanità

Movement, as we know, is good for you psychophysical health. And it’s important move regularly from an early age because, as scientific studies show, it helps kids to grow in good healthhave one harmonious development And adequate from the point of view physical, mental, cognitive and relational.
Do physical activity it doesn’t just mean practicing a specific sporting discipline, but it also means grasping it every opportunity to exercisepossibly with fun and enjoyable activities.
Yet, children and adolescents spend much of the free time in front of the TV screen, mobile phone or tabletas highlighted by the data (2019) from the surveillance system «OK to Health» – coordinated by the Istituto Superiore di Sanità in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and the Regions – and the data (2022) of «HBSC Italia» surveillance system (Health Behavior in School-aged Children – Behaviors linked to the health of school-aged children, from 11 to 17 years old), also coordinated by the Istituto Superiore di Sanità.
But what to do to combat sedentary lifestyle of girls and boys? It’s necessary enroll them in the gymto a football school, to a basketball or swimming course?

What is meant by physical activity

First of all, stated Professor Giovanni Capelli, director of the National Center for Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (CNaPPS) of the Istituto Superiore di Sanità: «It must be remembered that for physical activity of course any movement of the apparatus skeletal muscle that involves a energy consumption superior to that of the conditions of rest. Walking, jumping, playing outside, running, cycling, climbing are all examples of physical activity».

Physical activity, what and how much (for children and adolescents)

According to the recommendations of the World Health Organization, children and adolescents aged 5 to 17 they should practice, during the week, on average at least 60 minutes a day Of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activitymainly of aerobic type; for at least three times a week physical activity should be vigorous aerobics and also understand exercises for musculoskeletal strengthening.
Some examples for children:
– use of the climbing structures present in some playgrounds,
– rope skipping,
– the game of hopscotch.
For the older oneslike teenagers, it is possible introduce training sessions. Some examples:
– bending and pulling,
– exercises with dumbbells,
– medicine balls or elastic bands.
In the business aerobicsalso called of resistanceThat promotes the improvement of cardiorespiratory capacitythe large muscles of the body move in a rhythmic manner for a prolonged period of time.
«Walking, cycling, swimming at a moderate pace are examples of activities “aerobic” physics – clarifies Professor Capelli –. The activity goes from “moderate” to “vigorous” when it gives that sense of fatigue which signals the beginning of an imbalance between the blood supply to the muscles and the type of activity we are carrying out. Since the level of energetic commitment is different, the more intense the exercise, less time necessary to reach the minimum recommended activity threshold”.

Intensity levels, how to distinguish them

How to distinguish the intensity level of the activity being carried out?
«To facilitate the recognition of the level of intensity – intervenes Dr. Barbara De Mei, researcher and director of the “Surveillance of risk factors and health promotion strategies” department of the CNaPPS – we have created information material as part of the “SMOVAtt” project – Raising awareness of MOVEMENT and physical activity”, coordinated by the CNaPPS of the ISS and financed by the CCM-Ministry of Health. For example, if it takes place physical activity aerobics of slight intensity you can sing at the same time; if aerobic activity is moderate intensity you can achieve talk but not more sing; if, however, you are carrying out an intense activity vigorous it is no longer possible not even speak».

Counteract sedentary lifestyle

In any case, the goal is counteract sedentary lifestyle linked above all to the use of screens. «According to WHO indications – underlines Dr. De Mei – children and adolescents should limit the amount of free time spent in front of TV, video games, tablets and cell phones».
Whether it’s regular carry out structured physical activity (“physical exercise”) in the gym or to practice a «sport activity» (competitive, structured and subject to very specific rules) or, simply play movement gamesevery guy can find a way to be active, having funbased on one’s possibilities and inclinations.

Sports or movement games in company

“The sport even non-competitive, for example when it requests to chase a ballwith your hands, feet or with a racket, has a series of advantages: it’s a way of moving, but also for have fun and socialise and allows you to acquire motor skillsas well as serving for the energy expenditure – says Professor Capelli –. They are useful and can also make outdoor movement games fun. For example, – the director of CNaPPS points out – initiatives such as “walking bus“to make children go to and from school on foot with other children, they also allow them to get to know spaces in their neighborhood and recover their relationship with the environment”.
«To favor the well-being of children and adolescents, it is important that everyone has the opportunity to practice physical activity that is enjoyable and suitable for different ages, abilities, attitudes and interests. Furthermore, move in company helps boys and girls to learn to respect the rules and others» concludes De Mei.

April 1, 2024

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