Kids’ Fitness by the Numbers: Creating a Future of Good Health
Our guest blog series – in which we feature a few of our friends and partners on the blog to give readers the opportunity to hear from leaders across analytics, wellness and health industries – is back this week with a post from our friends at Fly Movement. Fly Movement is a Houston-based youth health advocacy non-profit and exercise program that utilizes DHS Group’s Movbands to both track progress toward physical fitness goals and motivate participation. Today, Fly Movement is sharing with us the importance of starting a culture of health early in life.
Any parent or child care professional will tell you that tracking a child for any given activity is a challenge. This means that tracking their exact level of physical activity should be nearly impossible, right?
At Fly Movement, we have a unique approach to fighting childhood obesity and building healthy habits. In addition to creating fun exercise programs (like free fun runs), Fly Movement gives each participant a free activity tracker that allows program leaders, as well as the children themselves, to easily see the child’s progress, delivering invaluable data and metrics.
Children’s fitness without numbers:
According to the CDC, “Children and adolescents should do 60 minutes (1 hour) or more of physical activity each day.” While the requirements for the type of exercise depends on the age of the child, most children can reach this exercise goal with activities they are already doing:
- Monkey bars on the playground
- Running during a game of tag
- Riding bikes or roller skating
- Playing sports like soccer or baseball
- Climbing ropes or ladders on the playground
- Taking a walk with family instead of watching TV
Younger children, especially those in elementary school, can usually strengthen their muscles and gain endurance through play. The challenge remains, however: how do you measure the amount of fitness moves a child goes through per day? Is it enough to support a healthy lifestyle? Are they moving too much? Are they getting enough sleep?
Fortunately, that’s exactly why Fly Movement incorporates activity trackers.
Results measured with DHS Group’s activity tracker, Movband:
Take this statistic for example: During one 6-week Fly Movement program, two third-grade classrooms at Brookline Elementary School moved more than 2,500 miles. That’s equivalent to the distance of a round-trip between Houston and New York City!
With an activity tracker in hand, not only can children track themselves, but it also offers opportunities to gamify the exercise experience. Children are able to set their own fitness goals and come up with their own strategy to meet them (and the Fly Movement prizes for goal meeting aren’t a bad incentive either).
During the same 6-week program mentioned above, these invaluable data points were discovered thanks to the trackers:
- The fifth-grade boys at Garden Oaks Elementary averaged moving 3.3 miles a day (9,200 fitness moves)
- The fifth-grade girls at Garden Oaks Elementary averaged moving 2.9 miles a day (8,804 fitness moves)
- Boys move about 5% more than girls, with the children in the program averaging 3.12 miles a day (9,010 fitness moves)
- The third graders of Houston Brookline Elementary averaged moving about 2.65 miles per day during the Spring 2015 Fly Movement kid’s health program
Impressively, during a Fly Movement Challenge Period (the classroom versus classroom competition), the kids increased their physical activity by an average of 20%. Since Fly Movement is about tapping into a child’s natural energy, it was interesting to see how much more kids will get moving during a competition, as compared to when there is no competition.
Long-term wellness and wellbeing begins with building healthy habits in children, and incorporating activity trackers has shown to be a valuable addition to both the mission of Fly Movement and to countless other children and programs that have worked the technology into their coursework.