Every year, more and more Americans are spending thousands of dollars for illnesses which are mostly preventable – soaring cholesterol levels, hypertension, obesity, diabetes, bone and joint ailments, to name a few. According to the American Heart Association, prevention for medical condition begins during childhood.
Here’s a painful look at reality: Modern lifestyles mostly border on physical inactivity. Hand a child a remote control, a video game, a big jug of Kool-Aid and a bag of chips, and he is most likely to forget about stopping, even for bathroom breaks. Recent studies have shown a rapid increase in the percentage of obese children over the past decades, and today, more than nine million children over age 6 are overweight or obese. In most cases, children who are obese grow up to be obese adults.
A healthy, well-balanced diet and regular exercise among children not only curb juvenile obesity – they also set a strong foundation for a healthier future. Children who exercise are found to have better physical development as well as cognitive capabilities. Researches show that active kids perform better at school, and exhibit better emotional coping and a well-rounded self-esteem.
Parents should disengage the idea of exercise with strenuous sports and gym workouts, because to children, the best form of exercise can simply be free play. It’s also a misconception that children must be well-coordinated in order to exercise well. In reality, it is exercise that helps a child to gain agility, balance and coordination, one step at a time.
Here are some exercises and activities you can get your children to do:
- Send them out to an open space. There is something about running – children just can’t get enough of it. It doesn’t matter if they’re running to catch a playmate, or running away from one. Kids will run as far as their little legs and feet can take them. Choose a bright, open place like a park or your backyard, where you can watch your kids play. Running develops leg muscles, speed and it provides a child a great cardio anytime. Plus, they can get a sunlight they need to boost bone health.
- Give them a ball. Don’t bother picking out a specific type of ball – a beach ball would be great. It’s large, fun, and won’t break glass windows. You don’t even have to tell your kids what games to play, unless they are really young. If the children are old enough to play with other kids, they will be able to invent games of their own. They’ll take turns kicking, throwing and catching, or they can play relay, or tag. A ball encourages little arms to lift, throw, and enhances grasp. Besides, where there’s a ball, there’s also going to be a lot of kicking and running.
- Walk the dog. If you have a pet dog in the house, walking it would be a great chore for your child. Your pet gets the exercise it needs, but so does your child. If he or she is too young, you can walk the dog and let your little one play along. Better yet, get your little one to teach the dog some tricks. He or she will run, walk, bend, and sit all to get the dog to learn.
- Dance away. It does not matter if your little one can’t get his or her hand and foot movements in proper rhythm to the sound of Macarena – kids can bob up and down to the music and still get the exercise you’d like them to get. Play some lively, up-beat music and take your tot’s hand to get him or her to jive with the beat. Then show your child some moves and get him or her to follow. Don’t worry if they don’t get it right – you got them on their feet, and that’s a start.
- Hit the playground. The playground is actually where your child can learn the three most vital elements of being fit – flexibility, endurance and strength. A few minutes of running is a great warm-up for your kid, and this enhances endurance. When your child crosses monkey bars, it boosts his strength. Simply bending to tie his or her shoe laces helps him or her to become more flexible. Plus, he or she learns to interact with other children, share, and make friends. The playground is the perfect place for your child to channel his or her pent-up energy. You will go home with a healthier, happier kid.
Skinny Mom Fact: Shockingly, it is estimated that 22 million of the World’s children, under 5 years old, are overweight or obese.