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Most children in this day and age don’t get the recommended minimum 60 minutes daily of physical activity.  You have probably already heard all the gloomy statistics about children spending too much time sitting – sitting at school, sitting at the computer or in front of the television at home, playing videos games or games on the iPad while (you guessed it) sitting. We have to face it – children are more likely to be playing on electronic devices than engaging in some active play.    

The 2014 Report Active Healthy Kids Canada states:

A child’s overall physical activity is linked to physical and mental health, maintenance of a healthy body weight, academic performance, motor skill development and physical literacy, among other benefits.

Under the heading Why Is Physical Activity Important, the report states:

Physical activity is one of the most effective ways to ensure kids reach their full potential and to ensure a healthy and productive society for all Canadians.

The Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines for Children and Youth are based on a growing body of evidence that demonstrates a clear need for children and youth to incorporate physical activity into their daily lives. For example, new evidence demonstrates that both light-intensity physical activity (LPA) and moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity (MVPA) are linked to minimizing cardiovascular disease risk factors and enhancing positive health outcomes in children and youth.

It is important to note, however, that the benefits of physical activity are not limited to improved physiological markers of health. Evidence from two systematic reviews has added to existing data showing that physical activity can also have positive outcomes on markers of cognitive function.Specifically, research reveals a positive association between physical activity and academic performance in children and youth.Furthermore, evidence from a recent systematic review provides increasing evidence of the positive effects of physical activity on markers of mental health (e.g., cognitive abilities, psycho social functioning).

The benefits of physical activity also come into focus when the economic costs associated with physical inactivity are considered. In Canada, healthcare expenditures and lost productivity in the workforce due to factors related to physical inactivity are in the billions of dollars and represent more than 2% of total healthcare costs annually.This, in combination with the reduction in healthy life-years that comes with physical inactivity, points to the importance of physical activity.

Despite all the benefits of physical activity, only 5% of Canadian children and youth are getting enough daily physical activity.On the 10th anniversary of the Report Card, it is helpful to look back at the trajectories of physical activity promotion in Canada. The continued disappointing levels of physical activity in Canada, in spite of its clear importance for health and development in children and youth, serves as a reminder of the complex nature of this undertaking and of the work that still needs to be done as we work to power the movement to gets kids moving.

One way to ensure that our children are getting the needed amount of physical activity into their daily lives is by getting them into organized activities that promote full body movement.  Dance is an ideal choice!  Dance works on flexibility, muscle strength, stamina and balance. Dance strengthens bones and boosts cardiovascular health.  The great thing about dance class is that the children are staying physically active in a fun and nurturing environment.  

In the combo dances offered at Epic Dance Complex, part of the class is always Acro.  At the young age levels, the children are not learning a lot of tricks yet.  Most of the class time is working on maneuvers like crab walks, bear crawls, frog jumps,burpies, rolls, and so on.  The fact is the children are building their muscular strength by doing these activities!  They are activating their core abdominal muscles, their quads and hamstrings, their triceps and biceps by just using their own body weight to do these exercises.  The difference is the children are having fun while they are doing these exercises!  There is no way a 3-year-old would be able to “drop and give you 10 push-ups” but they will do 20 burpies as long as there is fun music playing!  Over time as a child’s body gets stronger, they will be able to learn more complex acrobatic tricks that can then be added to their dance routines.

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One of the most valuable tools gained in dance is discipline. Self-discipline is learned by the structure of dance classes. The teacher is responsible for setting the standards of techqinue and behaviour in class, then following through with appropriate responses for both positive and negative behaviors.

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