Naturally in our youth we pay less attention to our well-being. Emphasis is placed on the potential aesthetic benefit exercises poses, not on resulting improvement in our health. Our bodies are way more forgiving in our teens, and even our twenties, than later in life.
It is for this reason we can all understand the lack of emphasis on exercise for health until our later years. With changing times and accumulating research more people and organizations are getting on board with the importance of healthy lifestyle at an early age, but we need more.
A neighbor passed me running on the highway with his son one day who said ‘Daddy that lady needs a car! I chuckled in spite of myself as I thought what my son Matthew would say in seeing a runner jogging by-look mom that lady’s getting in her cardio. Our children are always watching, and adopt our habits and behaviors as their own. Do as I say not as I do; no such scenario exists.
Exercise and healthy lifestyle choices cannot be put off even into our twenties. It has to be emphasized from birth. Study after study show us overweight children turn to overweight teens, and overweight teens to overweight adults. Eating preferences continuing into adulthood can begin as early as the womb, and plaque buildup on artery walls begin as early as age two.
Take bone density for example. During childhood and adolescence our bones are continuously remodeling. As we age this process slows. By age 18 in girls, and 20 in boys; 90% of peak bone mass is acquired making youth the best time to invest in bone health. Lifestyle factors(such as smoking), nutrition, genetic factors, and hormonal issues(such as menopause), will chip away at our bone density throughout life. It only makes sense to do everything we can to optimize peak bone density to ensure we do not struggle with weak and brittle bones later in life.
Bone density is only one aspect of a very large spectrum of what exercise and proper nutrition can do to benefit our health, beginning in childhood. In the wake of the busiest shopping day of the year, where people in the millions sacrifice a nights sleep and fight maddening crowds to be get the very best gifts at the very best price, why not give our children the truly greatest gift: knowledge and instilled healthy lifestyle behaviors. We do this best by doing it ourselves. Do it for your children to ensure their health long after you are gone to see it. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.
“Exercise is more than medicine, it's life. Remember Einstein's equation, e=mc2? Well, I like this equation: L= MC2 where L is Life, M is movement, and C is corpus (latin for body). The message is clear: movement provides the body with benefits not two fold, but squared and even more than that, a multiplicity of benefits that makes living truly astounding.” ~ Stan Brown, Ph.D., ACSM.
~Beth Harris, CSCS, HFS