In 2010, the federal government launched Healthy People 2020, a national initiative that sets science-based goals to improve the health of all Americans. Based in part on the widely known and research-based correlation between children, exercise, and mental health, Healthy People 2020 recommends that teens get at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) each. day, but most children in the United States, their bodies don't move as much.
Children of the marathon mission getting kids moving and setting them on a path to healthier lives is based on the same research that led to the Healthy People 2020 recommendation. That's why we're so passionate about what we do - we know the connections between children, exercise and mental health, we know how important MVPA is to everyone, and we know how crucial it is for children to regularly move their bodies. We also know that, unfortunately, many children with time-consuming school, homework, and other obligations struggle to meet this minimum daily movement recommendation.
The Link Between Children, Exercise, and Mental Health: Daily Physical Activity May Alleviate Anxiety and Depression in Children
Getting enough exercise can become even more difficult during the winter months due to frequent inclement weather and early sunsets. Understandably, many children aren't allowed to play outside in the cold after dark, and sedentary screen time often takes over. To compound the problem, most school districts nationwide are struggling to make physical exercise part of their schools' daily schedules as they grapple with curriculum changes and budget cuts while struggling to meet demands. national academic standards. Many schools no longer offer physical education classes every day, and recess often only lasts 10 to 20 minutes. Children just don't have enough daily movement.
Physical activity improves school performance
The irony is that children would likely do better academically if they spent more time in school on physical activity - including not only team sports, but also movements that are less for the child. competition or success for fun and general health. Research has repeatedly shown that physical activity improves children's focus, sleep and energy levels, which in turn improves their performance in school.
Essential brain functions are improved by regular exercise of moderate intensity. Research has even shown that MVPA has a direct and positive effect on the hippocampus, an area of the brain that governs memory and learning. Physical activity helps children improve their hand-eye coordination and motor skills, as well as their attention span and problem-solving skills. It may sound counterintuitive, but the research is clear: if children moved their bodies more, better academic results would follow.
Regular exercise is good for children's mental health too
However, the benefits of MVPA do not end there. Published research in the USA and around the world has been shown that regular, moderate to vigorous physical activity - including activities such as walking, hiking, biking, basketball, or running - is not only good for children's physical health , but also for their mental health. Children who develop a habit of regular physical activity at a young age have lower rates of depression and anxiety than their less active peers. Exercise releases endorphins in the brain which uplifts a person's mood as well as their energy level. The same hormones continue to work well after the end of the workout to improve sleep, providing additional benefits for mood, focus, and overall mental health.
Research has even shown that regular MVPA has a positive effect on body image as well as relationships, which can be difficult for children navigating the modern world. Children today have to live with many social, business, and societal pressures, including pressure to conform to unrealistic beauty standards, and social media has changed the landscape of their friendships as well as their relationships with them. parents, teachers and other adults.
Physical activity helps with mindfulness and connection
Regular exercise can help by shifting children's attention away from their day to day problems - that big school project, the nasty thing someone said about them on social media, the weird look a friend gave them to lunch - at the present time. Exercise, especially moderate to vigorous intensity exercise, can be difficult; at best, it can force a person to focus only on the task at hand, rather than getting lost in anxious thoughts about the past and the future. In this way, physical activity has a meditative effect, guiding people towards mindfulness by helping them live in the moment.
Physical activity can also give children a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment as their skills improve and reach milestones they may not have known they could reach. And whether children participate in team sports or engage in less competitive activities like running or hiking, engaging in shared physical activity with other young people can give them a sense of community and belonging. while reducing social anxiety. After all, it's always easier to connect with others around a shared project or goal.
Regular physical activity benefits body and soul for everyone, including children
If 60 minutes a day of physical activity seems daunting, it can be broken into shorter chunks rather than having to be done all at once. Even just 20 minutes a day, although far from the 60-minute goal, has benefits for children's mental health and academic performance. With our stressful lifestyles, prioritizing daily physical activity is obvious. It's not just about building strong, healthy bodies, or even strong, healthy brains. It's about living a longer, calmer, more connected, fulfilling and fulfilling life.
Most people think of course as a solo venture. And while runners appreciate ( read : need ) quality “me time, ” there’s something quite powerful about course in a pack.
“Most of the time people join groups for the social experience, but the cool thing about a running group is that you can be a part of it without saying a word, ” says Scott Miller, founder of the Boulder Trail Running Breakfast Club. “It’s a great opportunity to connect. ”
Here, Miller plus five other running club founders, share tips for building—and sustaining—your own course club.
Jessamy Little, who founded the Cass Runners Club, a 100-plus person course group in London comprised of her school classmates, suggests asking potential members what days, times, and locations work best with their schedules. Some groups may favor an early morning sweat sesh, while others may prefer meeting after work. “A recommendation for a newer club is to have two set course days, ” Little says. “One during the week that is more focused on ‘getting it done’ and one on weekends that can have a more ‘fun and footloose’ vibe. ” For Little’s group, the weekend runs were geared toward exploring new areas of the city.
“Don’t get discouraged if not a lot of people show up at first, ” says Marnie Kunz, founder of Runstreet, an NYC-based company that leads art runs—urban runs that pass by street art in cities across the U. S. When Kunz held her first art run in 2015, just one person came : a man on a bike. Kunz was disappointed, embarrassed, and considered canceling the whole thing. But the next week a few more people showed up, and then a few more. Soon, word got out. Runstreet has since hosted more than 200 runs in cities around the country “Realizing that everyone starts from scratch really helps, ” Kunz says.
Kunz stresses the importance of having your own website that houses all information about your runs along with photos. “Social media platforms can change—and not everyone is on every platform—so it helps to have everything in one place. ” Keep your communication consistent across platforms to help create a streamlined brand.
Let people know what they are getting themselves into, Miller says. His Boulder, Colorado-based group of 100-plus members meets every Saturday for a long trail run ( anywhere between two to six hours ) followed by a group breakfast. Because the group’s runs cover a wide range of terrain, he wrote several articles explaining the general variétés of conditions runners can expect and the group’s approximate pace along with safety tips.
The articles are published on the group’s MeetUp page, and when a new person signs up, Miller sends them the reading material. “If your group is not a beginner group, you need to make that clear, ” Miller says. “You don’t want people to show up and have a bad time. I try to be really descriptive about the time, distance, and elevation of our runs so people know what they are in for. ”
Many members of Miller’s group take photos during the runs and post them to the group’s page. He says it helps draw new members. “When people are looking for a running group and they see pictures of runs in amazing areas, people smiling—both men and women—they see that it’s a mixed group that likes to be social and have fun. ”
Frankie Ruiz, cofounder of the Miami Marathon and founder of the Baptist Health South Florida Brickell Run Club, a free, once-a-week, Miami-based group of about 400 runners, can count on one hand the number of times he’s cancelled runs throughout the program’s nine-year tenure.
“Our main message is that we don’t cancel, ” he says. “If it’s really rough out, we’ll go to a parking garage or go indoors and do a core session. ” He says this has helped build the club’s reputation as a consistent amenity offered by the city. “Even if a runner doesn’t show up, I think there’s a comfort knowing that there is something in your city that doesn’t stop. ”
“If you have new people coming in, you can’t assume that they know the rules and guidelines, ” Ruiz says. “Communication needs to be all the time. ” Even though the group’s “weather-proof policy” may be well understood among current members, every time the skies get gloomy, the club blasts their social channels with reminders that the runs are still on. It also helps to communicate the planned route, distance, and pace in advance so that new members can plan their fuel and attire accordingly.