Children and Exercise When is it too young?
Written by Cathleen Dower Friday, 20 August 2010 00:00
Children should be outdoors, actively running around and playing tag, not sitting in front of the TV all day watching movies or playing video games. Sadly, this is what many children do for the majority of the day and sadly, a percentage of overweight children in the United States are growing at an alarming rate, with one out of three children now considered overweight or obese. This gives them a predisposition to be overweight for the rest of their lives as well as be susceptible to diabetes and heart disease. How can your turn the tide so your children are not part of the percentage?
If you do not want your child to be a part of this growing epidemic then you should do your best to limit how much TV and computer time they get and encourage them to start up an exercise program. Of course a formal weight lifting program will be a bit too drastic however you should encourage them to get out and be active as children did when there were no computers or video games.
Usually children of a certain age mainly receive all their exercise through free play such as playing tag, gym class, dance class, etc. However, today free play time is being cut into by TV time so that’s why we need to take charge and make sure our youngsters still get in their needed exercise. The earlier they learn these good habits the better, for it will set them up to have a leaner body and since exercise helps control body fat, they will be less likely to become overweight, decrease the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, possibly lower blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels and have a better outlook on life. Children who exercise from a young age develop endurance, strength, and flexibility which is important if you want your child to grow to be strong and healthy.
So with all these motivating factors parents should be a child's number one supporter and role model taking them to dance class, tournaments, and other activities requiring physical exertion. For those who want to exercise right along with their children they can go bicycling, swimming, running, walking, etc. Some gyms will offer a daycare center that will include physical activities as well. The possibilities are limitless and you should switch it up so your children do no lose interest and stay excited about exercise. But remember it’s important for children to have free play every day so they can develop properly and be fit.
Of course once children reach a certain age, say middle school there probably will be no more free play. When this happens it’s good to encourage them to enroll in a sports program with the school which will give them a formal weight training program to follow as well as a conditioning program. School sports are great because they keep children active and fit as well as teach them how to work as a team, become disciplined, and learn certain skills which improve balance and coordination, as well as stay out of trouble. There are so many different sports to choose from out there that it will probably be hard for your child to choose just one, which is fine because the more sports they can play the better.
Although there are some children who are not fans of organized sports and would rather watch from the sidelines, to them I say, join a gym, so you’re not sidelining your health as well. Do not be discouraged because you’re not on a team, there are many different things that a gym can offer you that organized sports can’t; such as a personal trainer, fitness classes, and a nutritionist. Whatever your circumstances may be, anything is better than nothing, so keep your children active and get them involved so they will want to continue to exercise and stay fit for the rest of their lives.
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