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Physical Activity in School Aged Children Essay

Obesity and associated health problems are a growing problem in the United States. Within the past 20 years, obesity rates have risen significantly. “Unhealthy diet and physical inactivity can contribute to or aggravate many chronic diseases and conditions, including type 2 diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, stroke, and some cancers.” (CDC, 2003, pg. 1). More than 80 percent of the youth do not do enough aerobic physical activity to meet the guidelines for Healthy People 2020. (Physical Activity, 2011, pg.1). At least half of youth do not engage in physical activity that promotes long-term health. (Exercise, 2011, para. 1).

I have interest in this topic because I always worry if my 6 year old son is getting enough physical activity. He has mild cerebral palsy and has a hard time performing sports, running, or even riding a bike. With all the health benefits physical activity has to offer I wish he could do more. Our family has a history of diabetes, hypertension, and stroke that I do not want my son to inherit. During my pediatric clinical I saw all the school-age children running all over during recess and getting good exercise. This made me even more aware of how my son does not get enough exercise.

School –age children is my targeted age group for physical activity. These years are important to development of lifelong exercise. During these years the children are continuing to enhance skills such as eye-hand coordination, agility, speed, and muscular strength. Children need to be involved in physical activity and continue to develop motor skills. Physical activity has many benefits including; positive sense of accomplishment and self-esteem, increasing physical ability, weight control, and socialization. (Ball & Bindler, 2008, p. 328-329).

In addition, Researchers have found a strong relationship between physical fitness and academic achievement. Children who are active are more likely to have improved concentration, be more attentive, and earn higher grades. Furthermore, participation in organized sports encourages confidence, teamwork, and leadership. “Children often are more attentive, behave better, and perform as well or better scholastically after participation in physical activity through recess or physical education.” (Mahar, Murphy, Rowe, Golden, Sheilds, & Raedeke, 2006, pg. 2).

Much of our time as families is spent doing sedentary activities, including watching television, playing video games, and using the computer. These prevent children from being physically active. This is why I chose to target the parents of school-age children for my brochure. I chose to direct the brochure at the parents because they have a strong influence on the activities their children are doing. Not only can parents limit the sedentary activities but they can engage their children in more physical activity.

Active parents set examples and are a powerful stimulus for children to get active. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “A sustained 10 percent weight loss will reduce an overweight person’s lifetime medical costs by $2,200 to $5,300 by lowering costs associated with high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and high cholesterol.” (CDC, 2003, pg. 2).

Furthermore, children are not always getting the recommended 60 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity daily through school activities. “Less than 36 percent of elementary and secondary schools offer daily physical education classes.” (Exercise, 2011, para. 1). This is important for parents to be aware of so they can encourage it at home. The attached brochure has many ideas on how to engage children in physical activity. Some are as easy as washing the car or taking the dog for a walk. Children will not even know they are excising.

Throughout the growth process, there are specific cognitive, psychosocial, and physical milestones that school-age children are expected to reach. Cognitively, children reach the stage of concrete operational thought at about 7 years old. This stage allows school-age children to consider alternative solutions and solve problems. Still, school-age children continue to count on on concrete experiences and materials to form their thought content. Furthermore, they learn the concept of conservation (that matter is not changed when its form is altered. The cognitive growth at this stage is aided by reading, crafts, word puzzles, and school work. Staying physically active will help with the cognitive growth process. Researchers have found a strong relationship between physical fitness and academic achievement. Children who are active are more likely to have improved concentration, be more attentive, and earn higher grades. (Ball & Bindler, 2008, p.97).

Psychosocially, school-age child tends to have many friends and willingly interacts with others to accomplish tasks. From these activities and relationships they develop a feeling of accomplishment. (Ball & Bindler, 2008, p. 97). The children often play together as interaction. Being physically active allows children to play together and reach that sense of accomplishment and play cooperatively.

The physical changes that school-age children go through start with the long bones which continue to grow, jaw proportions are changed as teeth are lost, body organs and the immune system mature causing fewer illnesses and the urinary system can adjust to changes in fluid status. Furthermore, physical skills are being refined and fine motor skills are well-developed. To achieve the physical and motor skills the children need to be physically active. Playing sports really helps refine the physical skills. (Ball & Bindler, 2008, p. 95-96).

The attached brochure I created for school-age children’s parents should be accessible through the child’s school, pediatrician’s office or other specialty medical offices. If possible it would be great to see this information in a parents magazine (e.g., Parenting) and on websites that parents use for resources (e.g., Children’s Hospital, www.chw.org). In addition this brochure would be great to have at facilities for children’s therapy or any events children and parents might be attending.

In conclusion the attached brochure was developed to meet the educational needs of parents to help their children. The brochure has risk factors that parents can relate to. There are also statistics to help make my statement stand out and prove to the parents how important physical activity is. The brochure clearly states the recommended amount of time per day children should be active and ideas to help them achieve this goal. I also, added pictures to attract them to read it. Completing this activity taught me how important it is to be involved in children’s lives and keep them active. So many parents allow their children to play video games and surf the internet and you see more children struggling in school or with their weight. Now, as a mother I am more aware of the benefits physical activity has for my child. As a future registered nurse, I have the knowledge to teach parents the importance of staying active and preventing chronic illnesses.

References
Ball, J. W. & Bindler, R.C. (2008). Pediatric nursing-Caring for children (4th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (Aug, 2003). Preventing obesity and chronic diseases through good nutrition and physical activity. Retrieved October 25, 2011 from http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/publications/factsheets/prevention/pdf/obesity.pdf. Exercise. (2011). Retrieved October 30, 2011 from http://www.chw.org/display/router.asp?DocID=23509# Mahar, M. T., Murphy, S.K., Rowe, D.A., Golden, J., Sheilds, A.T., & Raedeke, T.D. (2006). Effects of a classroom-based program on physical activity and on-task behavior. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. American College of Sports Medicine 38(12):2086-2094. Physical Activity. (2011, October 31). Retrieved November 1, 211 from http://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topicsobjectives2020/overview.aspx?topicid=33


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