Physical activity and military youth

Military youth face unique challenges. Physical activity can be a great way to help them cope with stress.

Military youth are remarkable, to say the least. When we look at what they endure when their loved ones are deployed, we often think of the word resiliency. Military youth learn to adapt to situations that most youth would never encounter. With all the complexities they face, is there way of adapting healthy living into their lifestyle?

If you work with military youth, this is something you may want to consider. Every military youth will handle the stress of deployment differently, and physical activity can be one such way to help them cope.

According to a study done at the University of Georgia, physical activity increases cognitive brain function. This is especially good for military youth because physical activity will act as an antidepressant on the brain. In addition, military youth will ultimately benefit from working out as it helps them to form good habits of being active for a healthier lifestyle.

What are good physical activities for military youth and others to enjoy? Aerobic or cardiovascular activity will help to increase the heart rate as well as burn calories. Good choices for this include riding a bike, running and playing competitive sports such as soccer, basketball or swimming. Strength training is another great activity, as it will help youth to build strong muscles and bones. These types of exercises can include jumping rope, push-ups, pull-ups and using resistance bands. Another type of physical activity youth might enjoy is those involving flexibility and balance, as it will reduce the risk of injury while still being physically active. Exercises to improve flexibility and balance include activities such as stretching, martial arts and yoga.

As military youth figure out their own method of coping, being physically active will be a great outlet for them to relieve stress and help clear busy minds. Encourage youth to continue to be active because it could be just what the doctor ordered for their stress. In addition, military youth should continue to connect with other military youth and stay connected to support programs to help make transitions before, during and after deployment a little easier.

Michigan State University Extension provides free programs to military youth through Operation Military Kids Michigan. This program helps bridge the gap between military service providers and partners to build cutting edge programming for the benefit of military youth everywhere.

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