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Health Advocates: Make April 'Move More Month'

Children can lay the foundation for a healthy lifestyle by being active early in life. (Curriculum_Photografia/Pixabay)
Children can lay the foundation for a healthy lifestyle by being active early in life. (Curriculum_Photografia/Pixabay)
April 4, 2018

FARGO, N.D. - Health advocates are encouraging North Dakotans to move more this month.

The American Heart Association is touting the benefits of exercise during Move More Month - a message that is especially important considering that fewer than half of North Dakotans are reaching the recommended amount of physical activity. At a minimum, people should get in 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week.

Cheryl Stetz, a community health educator with Fargo Cass Public Health, said it's important for young children to lay the foundation for being active because they can carry that habit with them the rest of their lives. She encouraged activity at child-care facilities.

"What we strive for is to have that provider leading the children in that active play and encouraging them all to be physically active," she said. "We want them to be running, jumping, skipping, hopping, anything that's going to get their heart rate up - but is fun as well."

Children who are overweight or obese as preschoolers are five times more likely to stay that way as adults. That puts them at increased risk for chronic ailments such as heart disease, stroke and some cancers. About two in three adults and one in three children nationwide are overweight or obese.

Stetz said the benefits of active play for children extend beyond a positive body image and healthy weight.

"If you can get kids physically active before a lesson plan, that helps them be able to sit down and concentrate better on that lesson that you're teaching," she said. "It also shows that kids eat better, they sleep better, and they also improve their social-emotional skills with other children as well."

The AHA has proposed that North Dakota clarify minimum standards for physical activity within the state's child-care licensing administrative rules so that kids get a stronger start when it comes to being active.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - ND