The President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition has declared the month of May National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, making it a great time for both parents and children to commit to living healthy lifestyles. During the month of May, families are encouraged to get outdoors and get active at their local parks, playgrounds, and other recreational areas.
Regular physical activity increases everybody’s chances of living a longer and healthier life. When it comes to children, physical activity can improve heart and bone health, as well as muscular fitness. It strengthens growing bodies, boosts immune systems, and helps prevent childhood obesity. In addition, there are a number of cognitive and behavior benefits for active children, ranging from increased attention in school to the development of lifelong healthy habits.
But unfortunately, millions of children in the United States don’t get enough exercise. Even when parents are diligent about providing opportunities for physical activity, many children do not play as vigorously or for as long as they could. One potential cause of this is adult intervention—parents who are overly worried about safety can prevent their children from enjoying the outdoors. Another potential reason for reduced physical activity is the sun; both heat and excessive UV exposure can be detrimental to health and prevent children from enjoying their time outside.
Recreational shade structures at playgrounds and parks are one way to solve the problem. When shade is easily accessible, children stay cooler and more comfortable, become more active, and play longer. For parks in Arizona, where some areas can easily reach over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, ways to reduce heat are a must. In addition, shade structures block the harmful UV rays that can cause sunburn and skin cancer.
Physical activity is for everyone, no matter how old they are or what shape they’re in. With the right protection at parks, playgrounds, and other recreational areas, the entire family can enjoy the outdoors and get more active during the month of May.