Fitness Fun and Obesity Prevention in Children
As children head back to school this fall, parents, caregivers, health professionals,
and educators all play a role in supporting healthy behaviors in children.
While eating healthy is an important aspect of preventing obesity and becoming
overweight, keeping active also has a key part.
At school, children may be confined to sitting and sedentary behavior more often than summer break.
The American Heart Association recommends that all children age 2 and older should:
· Participate in at least 60 minutes of enjoyable,
moderately intense physical activities every day that are developmentally
appropriate and varied.
· If your child or children don't have a full 60-minute activity break each day,
try to provide at least two 30-minute periods or four 15-minute periods in which they
can engage in vigorous activities appropriate to their age, gender and stage of physical
and emotional development.
Here are some helpful suggestions to motivate children to meet these recommendations:
1. Make exercise fun. There is no reason to call exercise what it is.
Fun games like hop scotch, tag, or skipping rope can all make a child smile while getting exercise.
2. Make time for exercise. Add a place for exercise into your daily and weekly
schedules with activities that your children will love. If you don’t have enough time,
try putting exercise into other essential tasks, for example, clean up time can also
be an activity that involves walking back and forth. It can also be made into a game
with extra activities, such as the slowest to clean up one section does x amount of jumping jacks.
3. Play some fast paced music and have a dance party. Make up some dance moves
or integrate some calisthenics into your dance routine, then do a show at the end
of the week for family or friends!
4. Make exercise an activity for the whole family. When everyone participates in exercising,
it can be both motivating and meaningful for children.
5. Give gifts that encourage fitness or exercise. Types of gifts can include
small trampolines, hula hoops, jump ropes, hop-scotch, and bouncy balls.
6. Walk or bike whenever possible. If you have places that you normally
visit that are nearby, establish safe routes that encourage more walking or biking.
7. Visit parks or playgrounds. Go places that encourage activeness.
Playgrounds, children’s museums, and parks are excellent choices
where kids can have fun while also staying active.
8. Keep kids active when watching television or sitting in front of a screen.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than
“two hours of daily media exposure”for children 2 and up. Parents and kids
can take charge with healthy habits as fall begins and school returns,
getting back into a fall routine would be much more interesting by clearly setting
health goals for families. Also, setting up a meal planning system is great to let kids know that
healthy eating continues into fall with a few new choices.
References and Additional Reading:
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