The Risks and Rewards of Physical Activity

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “Adults 18 and older need 30 minutes of physical activity on five or more days a week to be healthy; children and teens need 60 minutes of activity a day for their health.”

While physical activity is integral to a healthy mind and body, there are certain risks associated with any athletic endeavor, and some carry higher risks than others.

The Risks and Rewards of Physical Activity
The Risks and Rewards of Physical Activity

Given the alternative, howver, most sports are well worth the danger. After all, couch surfing is probably the riskiest ‘sport’ one can do: more Americans die from heart disease than any other cause, and according to the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, “physically inactive people are twice as likely to develop coronary heart disease as regularly active people.”

So if the choice is between football, which tops the list for injury rate, and watching TV, the choice is clear: hut, hut, hike.

Sports Injuries in 2006
Rank Sport Total participants Total injuries Injury rate
1. Football 17,800,000 460,210 25.9
2. Basketball 26,700,000 529,837 19.8
3. Bike riding 35,600,000 480,299 13.5
4. Soccer 14,000,000 186,544 13.3
5. Skateboarding 9,700,000 125,713 13.0
6. Ice hockey 2,600,000 21,825 8.4
7. Softball 12,400,000 111,094 9.0
8. Baseball 14,600,000 163,834 11.2
9. Cheerleading 3,800,000 25,966 6.8
10. Tennis 10,400,000 22,425 2.2
11. Water skiing 6,300,000 9,928 1.6

Rate per 1,000 participants

Kids: Less Active and More Obese than Ever

Consider these alarming statistics from the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, a group of volunteer citizens that advises the president:

  • 16 percent of children and teens aged 6 to 19 were overweight in 1999-2002, triple the proportion in 1980. Fifteen-percent of children in the same age group are considered at-risk for overweight. The percentage of overweight African American, Hispanic, and Native American children is about 20%.
  • More than 10 percent of children between the ages of 2 and 5 are overweight, double the proportion since 1980.

Parents encouraging their children to join a sports team may want to consider the injury rate of certain popular sports, but it’s also worth noting that by following safety tips and common sense, many sports-related injuries can be prevented. Before you or your child start a new athletic endeavor, be sure to do your homework and strap on the relevant protective gear.

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