Fitness for Children

Thursday, July 26, 2007 - 4:43pm

By Michele Silence, MA

With childhood obesity now considered the most important health issue facing children, it is time for everyone involved in a child's life to do his and her part. Children do not get the activity they need today and that will not change until the adults they look up to help. In order to get the exercise they need, children need to do something moderately strenuous every day. The average child, however, falls far below this level of physical activity. Instead of getting at least an hour of moderately strenuous exercise each day, the majority of children get much less.

Adding more activity to the day

School, after-school activities, guitar lessons, youth group--children's time often gets spent on a number of low activity-level extracurricular hobbies and activities. Then, when not being shuffled around, many kids will opt to play on the computer, with the Wii, or on other video games. Change this trend by allowing computer time or video game time only after doing something physical like going for a walk or bout of basketball.

For further information on using the Wii to improve your lifestyle see the following article from TheDietChannel: The Wii Weight Loss Program.

Start activity and exercise at a young age

The older the child is, the more resistance you may encounter. Children who become active from a very young age adopt fitness as a way of life. Think about athletes who started playing their sports as young as they could walk. Fitness for them is not a choice, but really second nature. Start taking away the remote control and bag of chips though for an 8-year-old and you will most likely meet some strong resistance. The earlier children are introduced into a regular fitness regimen, the better for the child and the easier for the adults trying to promote healthful activity.

Remember to include a healthy diet

Children, like adults, feel better and are able to exert more energy when they eat nutritiously. Their brains work better, they think clearer, have better reaction time, and coordinate body and mind more adeptly. Eliminate as many empty calorie foods as possible like chips, sodas, candy bars, sweets, French fries and burgers. Replace these with fresh fruits, lean meats, juices, pretzels and raw veggies.

Participating yourself: be a diet and exercise role model

No matter what changes you try to make to help children become more active, it will not mean nearly as much as your behavior. As a parent or teacher, your child looks up to you as a role model. Your activity patterns, fitness level, attitudes, and opinions on exercise speak volumes to children. Set a sparkling example and children will eagerly follow you.

For more information on Child Obesity and Exercise see the following articles from TheDietChannel: Treatment of Child Obesity: The Physical Activity Component and Trim Kids.