When we think of the benefits of physical activity, we often think of cardiovascular health and reducing our risk of chronic disease. We forget that it is important for skeletal health too.
A recent article highlighted the findings of a study from the University of British Columbia which revealed how important it is for youth to have healthy bones, and the long-term health risks that can result if bones are not strong.
Low levels of physical activity in childhood and adolescence put children and teens at risk for fractures throughout life and osteoporosis later in life. In other words, sitting around a lot will make your bones weak and more prone to breaking. In the article, study co-author Dr. Heather McKay said, “We’re hitting a critical destruction point here in terms of the low levels of physical activity, so that is really sobering.”
According to Dr. McKay, physical activity is critical for developing bone strength and density, and about 36 percent of the adult skeleton is developed during adolescence.
“Our bones respond to everything we do from the time we’re born and I think the investment has to happen now,” she said. “It’s absolutely worrying as to what we’ll confront as this generation ages.”
Even short spurts of physical activity throughout the day can have a positive impact on bone health. Whether your kids are at a ninja warrior centre, on a field trip, or in the classroom, developing physical literacy when they are young means they will likely have fun in their activities when they are older.
As parents, coaches, and teachers, our job is to help kids develop physical literacy and make physical activity into a habit. Let’s ensure that children have strong bones and lead lives that are free of fractures, osteoporosis, and limited mobility.