OUR OPINION: Childhood exercise plan strongly recommended

By NEMS Daily Journal

An emphasis on healthy meals in Mississippi schools, under way in some districts for several years, has shed some pounds, with a 13 percent decline in childhood obesity between 2005 and 2011.
The results are encouraging, and a renewed statewide emphasis on healthy eating following stricter guidelines, should have an impact, too.
The Mississippi state Department of Health, which devotes significant space on its website to information about childhood obesity (www.nichq.org/childhood_obesity/index.html) describes it as a leading health concern for Mississippi.
“Obesity contributes to the major chronic disease killers in the state: heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers,” the department’s website reports. The health department also offers recommendations for a natural link with good nutrition: daily exercise.
The guidelines for children and adolescents arguably cite more intentional healthful activity than some children get in a week.
“Children and adolescents (six to 16) should do 60 minutes or more of physical activity each day.
Most of the 60 minutes should be either moderate or vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity, and should include vigorous-intensity physical activity at least three days a week,” the department recommends.
The activity, it says, should include muscle strengthening exercise, bone-strengthening activities, like jumping, at least three days a week. Physical activities “should be developmentally appropriate,” and can be accumulated in increments over the span of a day.
Young children, ages 2 to 5, the department recommends, “should play actively several times each day.
Their activity may happen in short bursts of time and not be all at once.”
Children and adults who are just starting get several recommendations:
• If you haven’t been active in a while, start slowly and build up.
• Learn about the types and amounts of activity that are right for you.
• Choose activities that are appropriate for your fitness level.
• Build up the time you spend before switching to activities that take more effort.
• Use the right safety gear and sports equipment.
• Choose a safe place to do your activity.
• See a health care provider if you have a health problem.
Earlier this year, The Raleigh News & Observer newspaper reported that research at medical schools like Duke, has found that exercise benefit “may be hard-wired right into our bodies. From their lanky limbs right down to their DNA, after all, people were designed to move, vigorously and often.”
Regular, adequate exercise, the article reported, can positively affect prevention or improvement related to every major disease.
If the exercise starts in childhood, the benefit is greater.