Exercise benefits anyone at any age, but it’s worth noting that turning it into a habit in your formative years paves the way for a better and healthier future. Here on Your First Mud Run, we believe that it’s a parent’s responsibility to cultivate this habit in their children so they can make healthy choices in the future. Signing them up for mud runs for kids or joining an obstacle course race (OCR) as a family, turns exercise into a fun activity and something that they can look forward to. But if you’re still on the fence about the benefits of these activities, here are some reasons why children need to get out and exercise more:

It improves physical health and fitness

Recent health statistics provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that nearly 1 in 5 school-age children and teenagers are obese. Genetics play a part in this, but it can also be blamed on the rise of technology use, coupled with an unhealthy diet and a lack of exercise. These factors, however, are preventable through a change in a child’s routine.
In addition, exercise improves cardiovascular and respiratory health. For example, mud runs are a form of aerobic exercise that boosts heart and lung health. Maintaining high levels of physical activity also boosts metabolism, effectively increasing energy levels to match a kid’s daily activities. This way, exercise helps control weight, develops lean muscle mass, and strengthens bones. By steering clear of childhood obesity through exercise, the risk of developing weight-related illnesses, such as heart disease and diabetes, in the future radically decreases.

It helps kids socialize

Letting kids play sports enhances their social skills. Mud runs and OCRs, for instance, require teamwork and coordination. Here, kids get tested on their ability to interact and play well with others, which are essential life skills that they will need in the future.

It encourages better behavior

If your child is exhibiting behavioral problems, exercise might be an effective solution. A study led by Harvard University students found that structured exercise on school days reduces a child’s tendency to “act out in class” by 50%. The participants were children and teenagers who had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or were on the autism spectrum. Having children with behavioral issues in a classroom can be disruptive and interfere with other students’ learning process. Fortunately, the results of the study were promising. Lead researcher April Bowling stated that exercise is not only important for managing behavior in class, but also in forming better relationships with a child’s teachers and peers.

It reduces stress and enhances focus

The reason your child may not be doing well in school might not have to do with their innate cognitive abilities, but with their psychological wellbeing. The research documented on Maryville University points out that mental health and learning success are connected, which might explain why a child who is experiencing stress and pressure at school is underperforming. Luckily, exercise is a great outlet for stress, which can enhance a child’s ability to concentrate. Moreover, a child’s brain scans from a study conducted by the University of Illinois displayed an increase in cognitive function after a simple 20-minute walk. Children from this study also tested well and showed longer attention spans compared to those who didn’t take a walk.
There’s no doubt that exercise is necessary for developing a child’s physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing. Its benefits, earned through physical activities like mud runs and OCRs, are carried throughout adulthood, making for a long, happy, and healthy life.