Children’s activity levels are remarkably lower than ever before

OSWEGO, NY– Children today are statistically less active than ever before and many wonder what influences on society are causing that change. 

With technology booming faster than ever, and the world facing struggles such as the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been difficult to get children to run, play, be involved in sports, and have healthy eating habits.

“Many of my students have expressed that on weekends they stay inside and play video games. Those who do get outside and play are typically involved in sports and are usually not the ones who are overweight,” said Melissa Garibaldi, a 5th-grade teacher.

The adult obesity rate of Oswego County is 7.1% higher than the state average as well as having the highest student overweight rate of 41.7% for elementary, middle, and high school students among all counties in New York state according to the Oswego County Health Department.

“Every year I have about 2-3 kids who are overweight in my class. They have 20 minutes per day for recess and during the colder months, they don’t get to go outside,” said Melissa Garibaldi.

Focusing on why there has been a decrease in children’s activity levels is vital to figuring out how to better this issue. In March 2020, schools making the shift to online learning not only affected children’s education but also their mental and physical health.

Mental and physical health coincide with one another and by taking children out of the classroom, and limiting their social interaction alongside their physical activity — such as gym class, recess, sports, and simple playing — children became accustomed to spending time inside and online. 

How can children who have become accustomed to this lifestyle suddenly break out of it? Especially the kids who that’s all they’ve ever known. Being able to tackle childhood obesity right away or better yet, before it appears is key to creating a healthier generation of children. 

On the Oswego YMCA website under the programs and events tab, there is information for youth-related programs. There are three classes offered, The Play and Learn Center for children 3 months to 10 years, school-age child care, and Pre-K and Little Learners. There is little information regarding what exact physical activities they offer.

Making the programs and events accessible with detailed information could incline parents and older children to want to sign up for them. The Fulton YMCA’s website provides more information, which could make people likely to sign up for their programs.

The Fulton YMCA offers all members access to classes for gymnastics, soccer, tennis, karate, swim lessons, and their Speed Demons swim team.

“Our fitness programs are designed to improve children’s overall endurance and strength while meeting new people and are doing so in a fun and safe way with instructors guiding and teaching them through it,” said Mitchell Parsons, Youth Center staff member.

The Leaders In Training program empowers older kids to stay involved and active, all while motivating young kids into healthy habits alongside camp counselors. 

Children practicing healthy living alongside other children is motivating and makes it fun. Instilling encouragement and excitement to continue being healthy and creating good habits, and teaching them how to be physically and mentally fit, introducing healthy habits at a young age is vital for the development of kids.