It’s alarming to read the headlines of the newspaper and think parents today might be outliving their children. The rise in childhood obesity has increased the incidence and prevalence of medical conditions in children, in the past that had been rare. More frequently, cases of obesity related diseases such as type 2 diabetes and hypertension are being treated in children. These diseases were once thought of as adult conditions.
The two most important things a parent can do to prevent childhood disease is to develop a family lifestyle of healthy eating habits and being physically active.
The exercise goal for children is to teach children the importance of movement. Don’t allow them to sit for prolonged periods of time in front of the computer, TV, or electronic games. Have them go outside to play or ride their bike.
As a child I liked to play with my Barbie dolls.
I could spend hours in my bedroom, very quietly playing. I remember my mom used to call me and tell me to go outside and play. It didn’t matter if it was cold or hot outside. She just wanted me to get fresh air and exercise.
Exercise should be fun and non-competitive for children. If your child is currently not doing any form of movement, have him/her start off slowly and easily so he/she doesn’t get too tired and frustrated with feeling out-of-shape. If the child experiences fun and success in exercise activity, it will keep the child going.
Scientists have discovered something called a “thrift gene.” People who have this genetic profile are more likely to develop obesity and even worse, Type II diabetes – if they live in an environment that promotes a sedentary lifestyle combined with an overabundance of food. Genetics may be a factor, but sedentary lifestyle is becoming more prevalent in today’s children.
Move it or lose it. Studies of the effects of prolonged bed rest or weightlessness in astronauts have taught us that by not carrying our weight around, we lose muscle tissue. Just as a leg gets thinner when it’s put in a cast, so our muscles get smaller if we aren’t active.
The window of opportunity to learn and integrate new skills is much greater in the brains of children than adults. Muscles depend on the brain, too. Waiting until your child is an adult to use muscles is a far greater challenge than putting them to work during their young adolescent years.
Listed below are a few ideas and strategies to get your child active and keep moving.
• Be creative in finding playful exercises for children both indoors and outdoors.
• Make fun choices for the family to be active together.
• When your child first gets home from school, allow him/her to play now and work on homework later.
• Exercise keeps dieting children healthy.
• Exercise is healthy for children with stress and depression, it builds their self-confidence.
• Strength training for kids includes organized sports and playful activities like climbing trees, monkey bars or swings, skipping rope or hop-scotch, gymnastics, dancing, martial arts, etc.
Remember that exercise and physical activity should be considered a fun activity where the entire family participates.
Active parents breed active children. Parents, don’t blame your child for being inactive if you aren’t being a fit role model for them.
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