Importance of Physical Activity and Drinking Water: Youth Edition

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Why is physical activity important? In adolescent years, physical activity plays a big part in youth development and overall health. The recommended amount of time youth should be active is 60 minutes daily. Did you know less than one-quarter (24 percent) of children 6 to 17 years of age participate in 60 minutes of physical activity every day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)? Physical activity daily has many great benefits – it helps the cardiovascular system, builds strong bones, reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and reduce the risk of other developing health conditions.

Physical activity for youth has many great advantages to help our youth live a happy and healthy life. Let’s take a look at how physical activity helps throughout our bodies:

  • Our brains benefit from physical activity by reducing risk of depression, helps improve attention span and memory to help with academic performance.
  • Improves blood pressure and aerobic fitness for our heart and lungs.
  • Builds strong muscles and endurance for muscles.
  • Helps maintain normal blood sugar levels in cardiometabolic health.
  • Strengthens our bones and helps regulate body weight and reduce body fat.

Being active can be fun and very beneficial for the whole family. Plan walks in the afternoon in your neighborhood and local park. Play a family sport such as baseball, kickball, basketball, or football. Have a fun day at your local park; make the playground your workout equipment. If the weather is not the best that day, look into indoor activities such as lifting small weights, dance party, yoga for youth, or looking up indoor exercises on the internet.

What should you drink when being active? Water. Water is the best drink option not only when you are active, but throughout the day. About half of school aged youth are underhydrated; according to the CDC, 1 in 5 adolescents do not drink any plain water during the day. Water is a healthy alternative to sugar-sweetened beverages. Drinking water improves memory and attention, helps children maintain a healthy weight, reduces the risk for some chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease, and helps prevent dental cavities (if fluoridated). Water also lubricates and cushions joints, helps regulate body temperatures, and protects our spinal cord and other sensitive tissues. Try adding fresh fruits to your water – such as strawberries, blueberries, oranges, lemons, and limes – to give it a great refreshing boost. In the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education program, we teach about the importance of physical activity and drinking water. Below is a great simple water recipe listed on our website.

Strawberry Mint Water

Ingredients:

½ cup frozen strawberries

¼ cup fresh mint

8 ounces water

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a cup or water bottle.

As we approach the new year, I would like to challenge the youth and families of Robeson County to get more active and drink more water.

For more information, contact Joanna Rogers, Extension 4-H Youth EFNEP Assistant, at 910-671-3276, by Email at Joanna_Rogers@ncsu.edu, or visit our website at //robeson.ces.ncsu.edu/.