A sedentary life style is recognized as a risk factor for poor health. More and more people are becoming less active because they believe that they do not have enough time for the activities they would do to derive health benefits. Inactive people who develop a healthy life style by improving their physical fitness are less likely to die from all types of causes and of cardiovascular disease than are those who remain sedentary. Whether it is in minimal or maximal amounts, exercise is the key to a long and healthy life.
Obesity is fast becoming an epidemic in North America, but the children have been affected the most. Obesity among youth in the United States has risen in the last decade to exceed twenty percent (7). Studies show (2) that obesity in children leads to obesity in adults with resulting complications. Children being overweight can be caused by many factors, but less activity and high calorie diets are the most common reasons (7,10). Children suffer physically and emotionally by being overweight. Researchers have suggested that for many children it is not the extra pounds that take the greatest emotional toll- it is the reaction of family members and peers (2,9). Also, obese adolescents often suffer from low self- image, (12), and psychiatric comorbidities, (5). Since obesity is directly linked to diseases such as coronary artery disease and type two diabetes mellitus, it is important that children begin exercising and eating healthy at an early age. Attempts to instill healthy lifestyle habits during early years will likely be more successful than during adult years, (8,6).
There is increasing evidence that being physically active can make the heart stronger and can prevent heart attacks, (6,2). The heart is a muscle that pumps blood to the body. Like any other muscle, physical activity exercises the heart and keeps it strong. People with a strong heart are more likely to live a long life because a weak heart does not pump as well as one that is conditioned, (6,10).