Webinar explores how youth physical activity is "More than Just Exercise"

Frame from the webinar, which is viewable online (link below)

Frame from the webinar, which is viewable online (link below)

Recently Dr. Jennifer Agans, PRYDE’s assistant director, gave a webinar for the Cornell Cooperative Extension Campus County Connections series on the topic of physical activity in youth programs. She emphasized the importance of youth gaining athletic competence and confidence, presenting the results from a summer camp study that she conducted this year.

Dr. Agans’ research interests center on out-of-school-time activities' effect on positive youth development, particularly with the benefits of physical activity. In the webinar, she notes that although physical activity is vital to a healthy lifestyle, many youth are not active, and trends see a reduction in participation during adolescence. The good news is that summer camps, like those run by 4-H, provide a natural intervention for increasing physical activity. At camps children have the opportunity to try out both familiar and novel activities that may encourage them to continue being active after the camp is over.

The results of the study showed that trying new things at camp was related to increased enjoyment of specific camp activities, and this was correlated with higher self-perceived competence and general enjoyment of physical activities by the end of camp. Dr. Agans shares that brief, intensive interventions like camp have the ability to change youths’ self-perceptions. “Helping kids to like just one physical activity can have ripple effects in their life in terms of how much they like and try other things,” she says. Her research indicates that encouraging children to overcome their initial dislike of certain activities, or guiding them to find one they really like, can become a powerful way to evoke beneficial long-term effects from their experiences at camp.

By Esther Kim

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