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Many Americans—including children and teens—are guilty of staging perpetual sit-ins. A study of 10,000 adults revealed that more than half got very little exercise is estimated to cause 250,000 deaths each year, as well as much misery and pain.
Leisure hours that used to be spent doing chores, gardening, climbing trees, hiking, and swimming are too often spent in front of the TV, playing video games, cruising in cars, or surfing the Internet. In spite of all these easy activities, children and youth are more stressed and unhappy than ever. Even worse, there has been an enormous increase in the number of children and teens developing Type 2 diabetes, a disease that use to be found mainly in adults. Not surprisingly, there is also more obesity than ever before among children and teens.
Those who choose the "couch potato" life can expect more than a body like Mr. Potato Head. Inactivity has been shown to go along with higher levels of depression, anxiety, stress, hostility, confusion, and fatigue.
On the other hand, those who exercise regularly are rewarded with better health, happier moods, clearer thinking, higher self-esteem, and even more creativity! A single bout of exercise has been shown to significantly reduce tension, depression, anger, and confusion in people of all ages, both make and female.
What is the best form of exercise? Try something vigorous but not violent; cooperative but not competitive. Brisk walking is one of the best forms of exercise. Hiking, bicycling, swimming, canoeing, gardening, jumping on a trampoline, even strenuous chores like splitting wood—all are good choices for the body and mind. Stationary exercise machines—or a good flight of stairs—can provide healthy indoor exercise in bad weather.
A reasonable amount of endurance exercise is good for the immune system, bone density, heart health, and lifespan. however, too much high-impact, violent exercise can actually stress the body, making it less resistant to infections and cancer. High impact aerobics can cause not only bone, muscle, and tendon injuries, but also permanent hearing impairment die to the loud, jarring music often associated with it.
Although competitive sports may offer good exercise, there's a down side. high levels of competition are linked to high levels of stress and depression. In fact, such activities as karate and ice hockey have been associated with elevated blood pressure, anger, and hostility. An interesting study showed that children who engage in high contact sports such as football tend to develop moral standards more slowly and to be more aggressive off the playing field. Remember, we are talking about organized competitive sports, not a friendly family game of ball, tag, or hide-and-seek.
Many studies have shown that children who play in cooperative ways feel better about themselves and accomplish more than those who compete with each other. To beat the competition, try cooperative physical activities like hiking, canoeing, riding bikes, building a tree house, or gardening.
Have you ever noticed the language sports announcers use? Team A is out to beat, blast, demolish, crunch, trounce, stomp, and otherwise, wipe out Team B. Even at the "unprofessional" level, we often see hostility, aggression, tears, name-calling, and depression. The Bible teaches that all our activities should cultivate Christian courtesy and cooperation because "all ye are brethren" (Matthew 23:8). The Bible also tells us. "let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others." (Philippians 2:3,4).
When we follow this advice in our exercise plans, we'll be winners!
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