Exercise during summer break is crucial for school-aged children

June 18, 2014

High-risk children who enroll in martial arts courses decrease their likelihood of gaining weight during summer break.

Summer break is a time for students to cool off in the pool, go to sleep-away camps and participate in physical activities such as martial arts. However, compared to the academic year, break can also speed up weight gain for kids, according to the Harvard School of Public Health’s study “Accelerated Weight Gain Among Children During Summer Versus School Year and Related Racial/Ethnic Disparities: A Systematic Review,” cited in Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Children spend more time in front of the television and computer
The report indicated that children in the 5 to 12 age bracket may be leading increasingly sedentary lifestyles. Additionally, poorer minority children and those who are already overweight or obese are most likely to gain weight quickly during summer break. The study attributed these numbers to a variety of causes. For example, low-income children have less access to summer camps and places to engage in physical activity.

Lower socio-economic status affects kids’ access to quality food and physical activity
Many kids rely on school breakfasts and lunch for their food. Without school, children may consume unhealthy food. The academic school year benefits young individuals because of its increase in school interventions, which include the physical and social environment and food and physical activity guidelines. All of these structures decrease the possibility of weight gain of high-risk children.

Rebecca Franckle, a doctoral student in nutrition at Harvard University’s School of Public Health, who conducted the study, said it’s vital to address this problem now because of the devastating effects of obesity such as heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke and Type 2 Diabetes, according to the National Heart, Lung, Blood Institute.

Martial arts is a cost-effective way for children to build endurance, shed pounds and engage with other peers. Enrolling in a martial arts course, specifically in the summer months, can alleviate school-aged children’s increased likelihood of gaining weight.