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Importance Of Physical Activity For Young People

Young people need to be active every day to promote their healthy growth and development. Those who establish healthy lifestyle patterns at a young age carry them - and their benefits - forward for the rest of their lives.

According to Canada’s Physical Activity Guide to Healthy Active Living for Young people, flexibility is one of the different types of activities that promote healthy growth and development alongside endurance and strength.

Being flexible promotes good posture, reduces muscle stiffness and soreness, increases relaxation and minimises risk of injury. For young people, activities that encourage them to bend, stretch and reach should be part of an overall, daily physical activity routine.

In addition to helping young people cope with stress, regular physical activity promotes:

· Healthy physical growth and development

· Better self-esteem

· Stronger bones, muscles and joints

· Better coordination, balance, posture and flexibility

· A stronger heart

· A healthier weight management

· Learning new skills while having fun

· Better focus and concentration during school

· Cognitive development

· Better mental health

· Social skills development

· Better sleep and energy levels

Stretch With Nature

These three stretches inspired by nature are a great addition to young people’s physical activities.

Be like the tree! Tree Pose

1. While standing up straight with your feet together and hands by your sides, slowly shift your weight to your left leg.

2. Bend your right knee, hold your inner calf, slowly bringing your right foot up along your inner leg. Make sure your left knee is facing outwards through this movement.

3. Rest your foot against your right knee.

4. Look forward and bring your arms to the centre of your chest. Take deep breaths while in this position.

5. Hold this position for 10 seconds.

Be like the Leopard! Downward dog pose

1. Get on your hands and knees. With your wrists underneath your shoulders, and knees underneath your hips.

2. Press the balls of your feet to the floor bringing your bottom up to the ceiling.

3. Raising your knees away from the ground at the same time gradually straighten them up. If you feel tight hamstring leave your knees slightly bent, in this way you can protect your lumbar spine. Remember to keep your back straight.

4. You can stay in this pose for a while. Release your neck and focus on your breathing.

5. Think about your heels trying to reach the ground. They don’t need to touch it, but the intention of this movement is to bring the heels down – as much as you can.

Be like the Ostrich! Dancer's Pose

Begin in Mountain Pose. Then stand on your right leg, reach your left foot out behind you, and place the outside of your left foot into your left hand. Bend forward, with your right arm out in front for balance, and arch your leg up behind you.

Useful Resources:

· Healthy Families BC

· Active Health

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