Why being a couch potato is as bad for you as smoking: Failing to get fit causes 90,000 deaths a year • Death toll from smoking is only slightly higher • Only a third get enough exercise each week


While the headlines based on this study published in the Lancet focus on the long term effects of lack of exercise on adult health, the effect on children’s development is even more important.

Children are just as susceptible to the encroaching influence of technology and marketing on all our lives  as adults – probably more so, as they are dependent on the attitudes and behaviour of adults – to provide opportunity for physical exercise and to regulate the amount of time spent in sedentary activities.  Earlier this week a study reported that children’s waistlines were proportional to the number of hours they spent watching television as toddlers. In all areas of life human energy output adjusts to the amount of electrical energy consumed.  If there is an imbalance in this relationship, bodies and minds will also undergo change.

In the first years of life, exercise is the primary medium through which the different senses learn to work together (integration).  Sensory integration provides the basis for perception (how the brain interprets information received from the senses), how a child interprets and interacts with the world.  In other words, children learn with their bodies before they learn with their brains. Exercise not only trains the developing brain but also acts as the dynamo for optimal nutritional uptake,  Good nutrition supports energy and performance, but exercise enables the body to utilise nutrition efficiently.

So much research focuses on individual areas of concern such as the rise in obesity, diseases related to obesity, children’s under-performance at school, and world energy consumption.  There is an urgent need to take a more holistic view of all of these problems, all of which are related in some way to the relationship between energy consumption and energy output.  This simple equation shapes not only our bodies, but also our minds in the future as well.

Published: 18th July 2012
Category: Sally Goddard Blythe