We all know how important it is for us to exercise and be physically active most days of the week, but do you know how important it is for your children to be physically active, too? Here are some alarming U.S. statistics:
- The average child watches 20-30 hours of TV each week.
- 30% of children and teens are overweight, and the number keeps climbing.
- The number of overweight children has more than doubled in the last three decades.
- An overweight child has a higher risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.
- 70% of 10-13 year-olds who are overweight now will be obese as adults.
Overweight children tend to be subject to greater peer pressure and labeling, which can create low self-esteem. Eating disorders can also be a result.
Some of the biggest reasons for the increase in the number of overweight children are a decrease in physical activity and availability of higher calorie and higher fat foods, such as fast foods and convenience foods and snacks.
What can be done about this growing problem in the youth of our nation? First, family support and participation towards a healthier lifestyle is critical. Families need to arrange healthy meals, schedule family walks or go for bike rides on weekends.
Parents need to set the example of being healthy and active. If parents are watching three hours of TV a night, then they can expect their children to follow suit.
Find physical activities that your child is good at and ones that they enjoy. Never force them into certain activities, but instead encourage them to try a variety of ones. They are more likely to stick to an activity they enjoy, rather than one they dread.
Listed below are some great activities children can do alone, with their friends, or with their families:
- Play outside
- Ride bikes or walk to the store
- Help around the house with chores
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator at the mall
- Take the dog or brother/sister for a walk
- Clean their room or put toys away
- Play basketball, soccer, softball, kickball, or run relay races
- Go swimming, in-line skating or skateboarding or jump rope
- Play miniature golf
- Go canoeing
- Go rope climbing
- Take a karate class
Try to limit the following activities:
- Watching TV and videos
- Playing video and computer games
- Sitting for more than 30 minutes at a time
- Eating or snacking while watching TV or using the computer
The goal is to promote family health and fitness. Remember, families that play together stay healthier together. So make physical activity and a healthy lifestyle a family affair.
Posted in Fitness Tips
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