Our children are facing a health crisis.
Over the past few decades the environment for Canadian children has changed significantly. Time spent in physical activities have decreased and been replaced with sedentary time. Our kids are watching more TV, playing video games, and surfing the internet. Instead of playing together and physically interacting they are spending more time socializing online with messaging and social media. Meanwhile, in the past 30 years obesity in Canadian children has tripled. With this increase in overweight kids comes a corresponding increase in disease and other health related issues. Being overweight increases the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and many other physical health problems. Being overweight also increases the risk of depression and other emotional problems. Since the early 60s there has been a 4 fold increase in youth suicides in Canada.
We are failing as a society to provide our kids with the environment and skills to live healthy lives. There is a direct correlation between being overweight as a kid and being overweight as an adult.
Fitness to the rescue!
Regular physical activity is important to our children’s health. Studies have shown that kids should average about one hour of physical activity every day to achieve optimal health benefits. Being physically active reduces the risk of the health issues related to being overweight.
Regular physical activity reduces the amount of screen time for our kids. It helps to regulate blood sugar levels and promotes heart health. Physically active people are at much less likely to be overweight. Physical activity increases endorphins that improve mood and help alleviate depression. Having an active lifestyle equips us with tools to help us to better cope life’s pressures rather than resorting to crutches like alcohol and drugs.
So why triathlon?
Many people think of triathlon as a fringe activity for extreme athletes. They equate “triathlon” to “Ironman”. In fact, triathlon is an excellent sport for people who are looking for a long term and sustainable active lifestyle. Triathlon Canada has established guidelines for age appropriate levels of activity under the Long Term Athlete Development model and the Kids of Steel guidelines. Kids who participate in triathlon with a TriBC affiliated club are exposed to activities and skill development that is appropriate to their age and skill level. Unlike many team sports, triathletes don’t “age out”. Triathlon is a sport that can be enjoyed for a lifetime.
There are many benefits in the multi-discipline nature of triathlon. The fitness tools that kids acquire in triathlon will stay with them for the rest of their lives. Many of the activities associated with triathlon can be enjoyed at a wide variety of locations with minimal resources. Participating in multiple activities promotes cross training with an associated reduction in injuries. In triathlon, if you can’t do one sport due to injury there are still two others to choose from.
Participation in triathlon helps to increase our kids’ confidence and self esteem. It provides positive social interactions and exposes our kids to positive role models. Training with a triathlon team provides all the benefits of team building, learning social responsibility and personal interaction skills while allowing kids to progress at their own pace and realize personal goals. Kids look up to older, and more experienced team members and learn to guide and nurture younger and less experienced team members. Triathlon blends the best of the team environment with personal development and achievement. It is an excellent sport to help address the health problems facing our kids due to a lack of fitness.
If you would like to join a great youth triathlon team in Victoria, check out Human Powered Racing’s youth team.