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Keep your Kids Fit!

Written by healthandfitness  |  12. May 2005

Please look at the link I have provided to read the President of the United States Proclaimation for May as National Physical Fitness and Sports Month! Why are today's kids moving less and less? We can site the advancements in gaming technology and heightened security concerns for our children as a reason for the increase. But with all the information out on nutrition and the need for exercise you would think that our nation would sit up and take notice and do the right thing. Did you know that American kids are the most overweight they've ever been? Did you know that in 2000 it was estimated that 30% boys and 40% girls born in the United States are at risk for being diagnosed with Type II diabetes at some point in their lives. According to research done by a contributing writer with ECA World Fitness, LaShaun Dale, 4 in 10 children in New York City public schools are considered obese. How did this happen and what is the future going to be for these young Americans? I am the parent of a healthy 4 year old child. I feel a sense of duty and decided to fight back and provide the nutritional and physical education my child deserves, especially given my background and career choice. We have learned that good habits should start when children are young, and those habits will benefit them in the future. If, from the very beginning, you start an exercise program and always encourage movement and healthy eating options you give your child a solid foundation to continue these good habits for the rest of their lives. I have outlined some ideas that I helped develop for my own child and for parents who ask for advice. From birth to 1 1/2 years. Play time should include assisted sit-ups while at the diaper changing table to encourage core strength, and extended crawling after various toys. Make this fun, if they are frustrated then stop. Activity should always be fun at this stage. From 1 1/2 to 4 years. Play at different parks to encourage movement, interest and variety. Keep fitness "toys" around the house that encourage hopping, jumping and balancing. Initiate healthy eating choices and have your child feel empowered by making the decision between cut up veggies and cut up fruit. Discourage fast food and unhealthy snacks. Set up your home with all the habits you want to instill with your child and yourself. From 4 to 7 years. Arrange after school activities based on your child's interest. (ie. swimming, dance, yoga, martial arts) Extended TV viewing should be discouraged or buy child friendly fitness videos if TV dictates a majority of your child's time. Plan and execute at least ONE family fitness night. For example, a nature walk in the park complete with magnifying glass and bag to bring home goodies, or family races... who can crawl the fastest across the lawn or living room! Use your imagination or ask your child for suggestions. Work with parents and teachers in providing healthy choices at lunch and snacktime and eliminate unhealthy choices. Encourage teachers and administrators to create an innovative class curriculum that teaches nutrition. From 8 to 12 years. Your child should pursue a sports or activity program that they have expressed interest in. They may love to bike ride, walk, skateboard, just make sure they do it and with proper supervision and equipment. Think out of the competitive sports box! Have them try a hip hop or yoga program. Believe it or not an extended mall "walk" labeled shopping keeps them and you moving and together! The one thing I haven't mentioned in keeping your child active is that it requires equal effort on your time. Research shows that children of obese parents are at a significant risk of obesity in adolescence and in their adult lives. Start implementing some fitness activities and healthy eating habits right away. You owe it to your kids and to yourself. For more information please look at: www.actionforhealthykids.org www.healthierus.gov/index www.ncppa.org www.leadershipforactiveliving.org

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