Physical Activity in Children: Ensures a Healthy Future

physical Activity What is the Definition of Physical Activity? 

Physical activity is defined as any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that requires energy expenditure”.(American College of Sports Medicine, 2006, p.3).

Physical inactivity (lack of physical activity) has been identified as the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality (6% of deaths globally). According to WHO,  physical inactivity is estimated to be the main cause for approximately 21–25% of breast and colon cancers, 27% of diabetes and approximately 30% of ischaemic heart disease burden.

Exercises Vs Physical Activity

The term “physical activity” should not be mistaken with “exercise”. Exercise, is a subcategory of physical activity that is planned, structured, repetitive, and purposeful in the sense that the improvement or maintenance of one or more components of physical fitness is the objective.

Physical activity includes exercise as well as other activities which involve bodily movement and are done as part of playing, working, active transportation, house chores and recreational activities.

Why to Emphasize Physical Fitness in children? 

1. Healthy Future :We often emphasize on physical fitness of adults. No doubt, regular and adequate levels of physical activity in adults can reduce risk of hypertension, coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, breast and colon cancer, depression and the risk of falls, improve bone and functional health and can control weight. But, importance of physical activeness has to be inculcated from earlier life only. So, it is very important to make a child of today to be physical active as lack of physical activity as a child can lead to many diseases as an adult.

2. It is a myth that young children or toddlers don’t require physical exercises as they are naturally active. However, vast majority of physic activity that toddlers engage in is low intensity and therefore they may not be meeting physical activity requirements.

3. Over the last 20-30 years, physical activity levels of children have decreased significantly, cropped up health issues in kids, reaching epidemic levels. Children today expend 400% less energy than did
their counterparts of 40 years ago and are 40% less active than they were 30
years ago.

4. Obesity in children have risen to alarming rate. Childhood obesity may result in heart disease, type 2 diabetes, metabolic disorder, sleep apnea, hypertension, increased chance of being an obese adolescent or adult, premature death, alienation from peers, and/or depression.

Benefits of Physical Activity to Kids

1. Reducing risk of chronic diseases reduction :Cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus, cancer (colon and breast), hypertension

2. Reduced risk of obesity,

3.Healthy  bone and joint  by decreasing chances of (osteoporosis and osteoarthritis), and

4. Reduced rates of anxiety , depression and substance addiction like tobacco, alcohol in future.

5. Improving fundamental motor skills.

6. Children with better motor skills also show enhanced academic and cognitive.

7. Development of social skills.

How much Physical Activity is Required for Kids? 

As per WHO global recommendations guidelines for physical activity in 5-17 year group

  • At least 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity daily. Amounts of physical activity greater than 60 minutes provide additional health benefits.
  • The goal of 60 minutes per day can be achieved by performing activities in multiple shorter bouts spread throughout the day (e.g. 2 bouts of 30 minutes), then adding together the time spent during each of these bouts.
  • Most of the daily physical activity should be aerobic. Vigorous-intensity activities should be incorporated, including those that strengthen muscle and bone, at least 3 times per week.
  • Start  gradually with smaller amounts of physical activity and slowly increase duration, frequency and intensity over time to reach above mentioned goal of atleast minutes of physical fitness per day.

What is Moderate-Intensity and Vigorous-Intensity Physical Activity?

Intensity of physical activity

Intensity refers to the rate at which the activity is being performed or the magnitude of the effort required to perform an activity or exercise. It can be thought of “How hard a person works to do the activity“.

Metabolic Equivalents (METs) are commonly used to express the intensity of physical activities.

MET is the ratio of a person’s working metabolic rate relative to their resting metabolic rate.

One MET is defined as the energy cost of sitting quietly and is equivalent to a caloric consumption of 1kcal/kg/hour. It is estimated that compared with sitting quietly, a person’s caloric consumption is three to six times higher when being moderately active (3-6 METs) and more than six times higher when being vigorously active (>6 METs).

1. Moderate – Intensity Physical Activity (Approximately 3-6 METs).                        (3.5 to 7 kcal/min))

Requires a moderate amount of effort and noticeably accelerates the heart rate and include:

  • Brisk walking
  • Dancing
  • Gardening
  • Housework and domestic chores
  • Traditional hunting  and gathering
  • Active involvement in games and sports with children /walking  domestic  animals
  • General building tasks (roofing, thatching, painting)
  • Carrying /moving moderate weight,(<20kgs)

Vigorous -intensity physical activity  (Approximately >6 METs)                        (more than 7 kcal/min)

Requires a large amount of effort and causes rapid breathing and a substantial increase in heart rate and include:

  • Running
  • Walking/ climbing briskly up a hill
  • Fast cycling
  • Aerobics
  • Fast swimming
  • Competitive sports and games (Football, volleyball, basket ball, hockey)
  • Carrying /moving moderate weight,( >20kgs)


physical Activity

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