Exercise and your Child
When most adults think about exercise, they imagine working out in the gym on a treadmill or lifting weights. But for kids, exercise means playing and being physically active. Kids exercise when they have gym class at school, soccer practice, or dance class.
They're also exercising when they're at breaktime, riding bikes, or playing tag.
The Many Benefits of Exercise
Everyone can benefit from regular exercise. Kids who are active will:
•have stronger muscles and bones
•have a leaner body because exercise helps control body fat
•decrease the risk of developing type 2 diabetes
•possibly lower blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels
•have a better outlook on life
Besides enjoying the health benefits of regular exercise, kids who are physically fit sleep better and are better able to handle physical and emotional challenges — from running to catch a bus to studying for a test.
The Three Elements of Fitness
If you've ever watched kids on a playground, you've seen the three elements of fitness in action when they:
1.run away from the kid who's "it" (endurance)
2.cross the monkey bars (strength)
3.bend down to tie their shoes (flexibility)
Parents should encourage their kids to do a variety of activities so that they can work on all three elements.
Endurance is developed when kids regularly engage in aerobic activity. During aerobic exercise, the heart beats faster and a person breathes harder. When done regularly and for continuous periods of time, aerobic activity strengthens the heart and improves the body's ability to deliver oxygen to all its cells
The Element of Fun
A great way for children to really enjoy themselves and exercise too is to join an organised programme like Socatots.
The Sedentary Problem
The percentage of overweight and obese kids and teens has more than doubled over the past 30 years. Although many factors contribute to this epidemic, children are becoming more sedentary. In other words, they're sitting around a lot more than they used to.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the average child is watching about 3 hours of television a day. And the average kid spends 5½ hours on all screen media combined (TV, videos and DVDs, computer time outside of schoolwork, and video games).
One of the best ways to get kids to be more active is to limit the amount of time spent in sedentary activities, especially watching TV or playing video games.
How Much Exercise Is Enough?
Parents need to ensure that their kids get enough exercise. So, how much is enough? All kids 2 years and older should get at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise on most, preferably all, days of the week.
The National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) offers expanded activity guidelines for infants, toddlers and preschoolers:
Min. Daily Activity: No specific requirements
Physical activity should encourage motor development
Minimum Daily Activity: 1½ hours
30 minutes planned physical activity AND 60 minutes unstructured physical activity (free play)
Min. Daily Activity: 2 hours
60 minutes planned physical activity AND 60 minutes unstructured physical activity (free play)
Min. Daily Activity: 1 hour or more
Break up into bouts of 15 minutes or more
Infants and young children should not be inactive for prolonged periods of time — no more than 1 hour unless they're sleeping. And school-age children should not be inactive for periods longer than 2 hours
Raising a Fit Kid
Combining regular physical activity with a healthy diet is the key to a healthy lifestyle.
Here are some tips for raising fit kids:
•Help your child participate in a variety of activities that are age-appropriate.
•Establish a regular schedule for physical activity.
•Incorporate activity into daily routines, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
•Embrace a healthier lifestyle yourself, so you'll be a positive role model for your family.
•Keep it fun, so you can count on your child to come back for more