Children's Fitness: Does Your Child Exercise Enough?

Wednesday, October 4, 2006 - 1:20pm

By Michele Silence, MA

With all the recent attention on childhood obesity and other health issues affecting our kids, you're probably concerned about whether your child is getting enough exercise. How can you ensure the roots of a sedentary life are not already taking hold?

Assessing your child's fitness level

Answer these four questions to assess the activity level of your child:

1.     How much time does your child watch television, play video games and spend on her computer?

If television, computer and video game time is not limited, children will do little else. Put a time limit on how much time can be spent in front of a screen and see how much more active your child will be. Take the television out of their room and get them moving outside more. (See the following article from TheDietChannel: Does TV Make Kids Fat?)

2.   Does your child have sports/fitness equipment? Does she use it?

Has your child ever asked for athletic equipment? Or have you made it easily accessible? You can't expect a child to get fit without the proper equipment. Remember, it's easy to motivate your child to perform an activity if there are lots of accessories to gear-up with. If your child already has a gamut of balls, bats and gloves, brainstorm ways to ensure the props are used more often. What will motivate your child to go for a quick game of tennis or go for a run around the block? Find a way to integrate some physical activity into each day.

3.   What is your child's opinion of sports and exercise?

Encourage your child to follow some type of sport or movement activity-martial arts, the swim team, hiking, whatever it is he or she does best. Start building positive associations now and provide physically fit role models for your child.

4.   How much time do you spend exercising?

Perhaps the most important question to ask is how much time you actually spend exercising. You are your child's best role model. If you don't exercise regularly, do you really think your child will grow up to adopt an active lifestyle? Not likely. The best protection you can give your child against premature heart disease, obesity and diabetes is to make sure he or she exercises on a regular basis. This may mean you have to run around the park, go on hikes, and ride a bike or swim right alongside your child. If so, do it! It's well worth the effort...For both of you.