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According to the National Institute of Health and Welfare health survey for school children, almost half of the children between 12 to 14 years of age get enough physical exercise (i.e. at least 5 hours physical activity outside school hours), but in the age group 16 to 18 this figure has decreased to one third. About 10% of 12 to 14 year olds clearly do not get enough physical exercise. In the older age groups this group of youngsters, which do not get enough physical exercise has increased to one third of the whole age group.
Why children and young people don’t move
There are an increasing number of children, which do not get enough physical exercise required to be healthy and at the same time there is alarmingly big group of children which don’t do any sports or get any physical exercise at all. Sport and physical activities that have been started at an early age have a clear link to a healthy life and a lifestyle where sport and physical activities have a central role. It is the responsibility of the adults to allow children to move and provide opportunity for sport and physical activities.
There are several reasons to why children do not get enough physical exercise. The normal everyday physical activities have decreased as we spend more time sitting down. Children spend lot of time sitting down, whether it is playing computer games or being taken to school or day care by car. Parents’ role is central in introducing the world of sport and physical activities to their children. Without the support and acceptance of their parents, it is difficult for the children to become active in sports or other forms of physical activities. The number of children who are active in sports has not decreased, the problem is more related to the fact that children’s normal physical activities (playing outside with friends, cycling to school etc.) has decreased.
Children and young people need physical activities to compensate the time they spent in front of TV and computer. According to official recommendations you should not spend more that 2 hours in front of a computer and TV per day. Sitting down in a bad posture for longer periods of time in front of computer of video game causes problems in your skeletal system and associated muscles, joints, and ligaments. It also causes headache and problems with your eyesight. Sports and physical activity helps also with weight control. A young person should get at least 1,5 hours physical activity per day. This physical activity can take place during journeys to school, during the brakes between classes, physical education classes, hobbies and with friends and family. There are hundreds of different sports and forms of physical activity. So try them out and find the one that is most suitable for you.