Tag Archives: Active Living

Helping Kids Get Active

Today, there’s a world of entertainment for kids that has nothing to do with playing outside. Establishing healthy activity and eating patterns needs to start at a young age. But here’s a scary fact: About 75% of kids around the country aren’t getting the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity daily, including kids who are overweight.

For these kids, it can be more difficult to be active due to embarrassment, peer bullying, and physical challenges associated with getting into an activity routine. Overweight and obese youth also tend to be less active due to poor motor skills.

So how can we get kids who are overweight to be more active?

First, it’s important for parents to be involved and encouraging. Research shows that parents today see normal weight children as being underweight, while overweight children are viewed as normal, and children with obesity are seen as being just “a little too heavy.” With these misconceptions parents are much less likely to prioritize healthy behaviors like physical activity.

Second, the activity should be something the child will enjoy. Very few kids are going to be excited about a gym; I suggest parents and caregivers focus on increasing playtime.

Muscle-strengthening activities can be unstructured and part of play, such as playing on playground equipment, climbing trees, and playing tug-of-war or structured, such as lifting weights or working with resistance bands. Aerobic training are those in which young people rhythmically move their large muscles. Running, hopping, skipping, jumping rope, swimming, dancing, and bicycling are all examples of aerobic activities. Aerobic activities increase cardiorespiratory fitness. Although aerobic activity is important, if you start with fun activities involving strength exercises you can build up the child’s confidence and strength over time to eventually include more aerobics.

Try games where kids toss balls with varying high-to-low throws. Squatting to catch a low throw is much more fun than standing at the gym doing squats. Medicine balls are great because kids can use them at home and while playing with others.

Parents/caregivers should also encourage kids to be creative and come up with their own exercises – this makes the activity more fun.

The bottom line: it’s too challenging and discouraging for an overweight child to jump right into high intensity physical activity. We need to start by simply getting kids out of being sedentary through fun activities, then work up from there.

 

Posted on July 15, 2015 by Sonja Goedkoop, MSPH, RD @ American Institute for Cancer Research

Limit Screen Time and Get Your Kids Moving!

Experts recommend that kids get no more than 1–2 hours of TV/computer/video games a day. But did you know that most kids today get 4–6 hours of these combined things daily?

You know your child needs to watch less TV or put down their computer or iPod, but you’re dreading the screaming, yelling and crying that may follow telling them to get up and do something. First and foremost, remember YOU are the parent. You run the show and it’s your job to set limits. We know it’s not easy, and each child is different, so what works for one child, may need a slight change for another.

Here are some ideas about how to limit your family’s sedentary time:

  1. Identify free times for activity during the week. Learn how to find time to get the whole family heart healthy.
  2. Make a plan to add physical activity to your daily routine. Be prepared to offer alternative age-appropriate activities to TV or video games after school. Make physical activity a regular part of your family’s schedule. Write it on a weekly calendar for the whole family.
  3. Be active with your kids. Experts say that what kids want more than anything else is time with their parents. To give them that, don’t just send them out to play — go play with them! Develop a set of activities for you and your family that are always available regardless of weather.
  4. Limit TV, computer, and video game time. Don’t position your furniture so the TV is the main focus of the room. Remove televisions from bedrooms. And remember to avoid using TV as a reward or punishment.
  5. Plan TV watching in advance. Go through the TV guide and pick the shows you want to watch. Turn the TV on for those shows and turn it off afterwards. Don’t just watch whatever comes on next.
  6. Practice what you preach. Your kids won’t accept being restricted to two hours of TV watching if you can veg out for four hours. The best way to influence your kids’ behavior is through example.

All of these might sound easy enough; they just take a little thought and a lot of practice. Do what you can as often as you can.

Here are some ideas that your kids can do on their own or the whole family can do together:

  • family game night
  • shooting some hoops
  • walking the dog
  • exploring a nearby park
  • turning on the stereo and dancing around the house
  • find a great place to play near you using Kaboom
  • chores that require some physical activity

Remember, you can do it! Be strong, have a plan and don’t back down. Your child’s health is worth fighting for.

Source: American Heart Association; Limit Tube Time and Get Your Kids (and the Whole Family) Moving

Active Family Ideas

Help your children form healthy habits for life and improve their school performance by making activity part of your family life. Most active kids have active parents and families, so it’s important to model the behavior for them. Make sure it’s fun, and really integrated into your life, not forced.

Ideas to try:

  • Plan physical games into the day, whether it’s a relay race or dancing.
  • If you have enough people, organize a team sport at a nearby school athletic field or in the backyard.
  • Map out local errands and do them by foot or bike. The more people who go, the more you can carry.
  • Give every member of the family a pedometer and track your steps. Consider monthly prizes for the top stepper. Their prize can be choosing the next family activity!!
  • Simply play together for 30 minutes, three times a week. Try hopscotch, jumping rope, playing hide-and-seek or even climbing rocks.
  • Take a short hike.
  • Give the yard its spring touchup by raking, piling rocks, digging flower beds, or planting a vegetable garden.
  • Do household chores to your favorite songs.