WARNING: Before beginning a program of physical inactivity, consult your doctor. Sedentary living is abnormal and dangerous to your health.
It simply couldn't be said any better. Physical inactivity is detrimental to one's health for several reasons:
1. It's unnatural for humans not to move. We are genetically predisposed to move. A LOT.
2. Inactivity affects the brain and its ability to learn, imbed new memories and problem solve. Humans learn through movement. You don't believe me? Look at a baby - always moving, always discovering, always learning.
3. Inactivity impairs your physical functioning, reduces muscle mass, impairs sensory motor functioning and leads to premature death, according to the World Health Organization.
I'm very excited that Michelle Obama, with her "Let's Move" campaign, has decided to make her mark as First Lady with a common sense campaign to positively affect the health of children and, by extension, their families. I especially like how she says, that it's "time to modernize the President’s Physical Fitness Challenge and increase participation in the challenge, so it’s not just about how athletic kids are – how many sit-ups and push-ups they can do – but how active they are each day."
The distinction between "exercise and fitness" and "physical activity and playing" is an important one. Most people don't generally like to "exercise." That means repetitions at the gym, sweating on the stairmaster while watching Oprah, and just counting down the minutes until you've done your allotted 30 minutes of cardio for the day.
A life filled with active play, and movement is a completely different model of "fitness." Play stimulates brain growth and social learning while toning the entire body - all in a more enjoyable way.
The inactive lifestyles of many of today's children can be attributed to more than just the availability of technology and its replacement as an after-school past-time. There can be social and cultural reasons as well. Dr. Kwame Brown, a young, forward thinking neuroscientist, is one of the founding Board of Directors of the International Youth Conditioning Association, and the creator of MoveTheory, an organization which engages with individuals and organizations throughout the United States to create Active Play for children and adolescents. He makes some important points about why kids nowadays might choose inactivity and video games over playing outdoors. Check out Kwame's blog and see what you think.
Now that you've read this post, get outside, take a walk, run up and down a flight of stairs, turn on some music and shake your booty, find a hula hoop and get those hips moving, go play hide-and-seek in the park with your kids. That's just for starters...