CEO Cami Hawkins on the Importance of Exercise in Child Development

By Staff, Modern Wellness Guide

Only a fraction of children get the recommended 60 minutes of exercise per day. CEO Cami Hawkins talks why movement is so important for their emotional and physical well being.

Why is physical fitness so important for children?

Globally, physical inactivity has reached pandemic proportions. The first ten years of life are game-changing. These years provide a critical window for creating a lifelong commitment to physical activity. Research shows that kids need at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per day. However, only one in five kids currently reaches that minimum. Physical inactivity and poor food choices cause all sorts of problems — like diabetes, problem behavior, low self-esteem, heart disease, mental health issues, liver disease and poor school performance.

What’s the best way to motivate a discouraged child? What’s the best way to motivate a child in general?

We base our program on six evidence-based pillars:  Goal setting, both short- and long-term; tracking,where kids track their progress ¼ mile at a time, social support, modeling the way, rewarding and celebrating. Whether a child is running, walking, or wheeling in their wheelchairs, that counts toward their goal; every physical activity is worth celebrating, and with a system of small milestones, kids stay focused and motivated.

What are some healthy tips people can integrate into their everyday lives?

It’s a straightforward formula: eat healthier foods and get moving. Any amount of activity is better than none, and anyone can find a way to get exercise at their own pace.

How can someone get involved?

At Marathon Kids, we welcome those who want to participate as coaches, parent supporters, donors, or advocates; as a community, we can change the future for this generation of kids.

 This article originally appeared in the Modern Wellness Guide as part of Mediaplanet’s Childhood Wellness campaign. The campaign was distributed through USA TODAY on December 27, 2017 and is published online