Help Your Child get Active
Physical activity is widely recognized as an important component in treating and preventing obesity in children.
This is, of course, in addition to sensible eating habits and – where necessary – diet modifications. Even medication that addresses obesity should not be viewed as a weight reducing cure-all apart from physical activity.
The School Reform News has observed that a decline in physical activity almost inevitably equates to an increase in obesity. Since the percentage of obese children and teenagers have doubled during the past two decades in conjunction with a marked de-emphasis on physical education in schools, Jenni Gaster Sopko of the National Parent Teacher’s Association urged that local PTA chapters should give serious consideration to reviving the old physical education classes that provide children with time to be active, sweat, and that help associate such activity with fun.
Sopko also noted that an increased childhood dependence on high-tech games and gadgets has led to more sedentary lifestyles, and this needs to change. Video games, TV shows, and other forms of passive entertainment can be very appealing to a child who is already overweight. This only adds to the challenge in motivating obese children to engage in physical activities.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends at least 60 minutes of physical activity divided up throughout the 24-hour period.
For example, of the total 60 minutes in physical activity, 20 minutes might include jogging in the morning, another 20 minutes of gym class in school and then finally the last 20 minutes playing baseball before dinner. The options are as endless as the imagination.
To help initially motivate inactive children, some of their otherwise normal TV or video game time could be offered in exchange for a comparable amount of physical activity. Eventually, instead of staring at the TV or computer screen, obese children may actually find greater enjoyment participating in a sport with friends who have a similar fun interest.
However it is important to start. As a parent, don’t allow an initial resistance from your obese child dissuade you from persisting. Work together to find an activity that he or she enjoys, and participate together where appropriate.
What is one of the leading health concerns facing children today? Is it lurking dangers on the Internet? School safety issues? Unsafe sexual practices? Actually, while these are all major concerns facing the nation’s children, it is the chronic lack of activity that may be the most overlooked and widespread danger to their health.
Inactivity, due to a reduction in school fitness programs and a continuing trend to over indulge in television, computers and other technology as forms of entertainment, poses a serious health risk to this generation of children. From obesity to an increased risk of diabetes, inactivity in childhood can lead to serious health problems now and in the future.
IS YOUR CHILD ACTIVE ENOUGH?
How much time does your child spend watching TV, playing video games, surfing the internet or messaging their friends? When too many non-active pastimes are available it is easy for a child to slip into a sedentary lifestyle.
TIPS FOR GETTING YOUR CHILD MORE ACTIVE
To get your child more active follow these simple suggestions. Your whole family will benefit from greater health.
- Limit TV to 2 hours per day
- Put homework off until after dinner so children can spend time getting active after school
- Do activities as a family; go for a walk, play a game of catch or work together on household chores. Make use of certain seasons to get your kids going. Let them earn some money for raking the leaves in the fall or shoveling snow in the winter
- Sign them up for activities they enjoy – dance, sports, martial arts and gymnastics classes are good examples. Pick something the child wants to be a part of. You as a parent might have to look into some activities “outside the box” to motivate your child. Volunteer work is also a good example of thinking outside the box, it can build self-esteem as well as a healthy body
- Don’t forget diet – a high fat, high sugar diet will leave your child exhausted. Providing healthy meals and snacks will give them the energy to get active
- Set the example – studies continue to show that children with active parents will be more inclined to stay active themselves than children with sedentary families. Doing activities on your own or with your family show your children that being active is a normal, healthy way of living.
Are you a healthy, active parent?
Are you a good role model when it comes to eating healthy and exercising regularly?
Do you have a normal relationship with food and a healthy self image?
Please know that these questions are not meant to condemn you or make you feel guilty. Many of us already know these things, we just need some help.
If you battle with setting a good example, then know that you are not alone. Lots of parents do not realize that children learn mainly by example and not so much by what we tell them. So if you can pick up the pace a little, or better yet, put your dancing shoes back on, then you are not only bringing physical and emotional healing to your own life, but you are affecting your children’s lives as well.
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