Did you know that about 1/3 of American children between 10 and 17 years old are overweight or obese? This is a disturbing truth but a fact nevertheless. What are we doing wrong? The reasons could be many but it is important for both parents and teachers to create an environment and the conditions that facilitate adequate physical activities for kids.
Maintaining a Healthy Weight
This is because a physically active child grows up to be a fit adult. Lack of physical activity, particularly among children in the developed world is one of the major causes of obesity. Childhood obesity is posing a significant threat to the well-being of our children. An alarming number of kids are falling under the category of “obese” owing to lesser physical activities and increased “screen time”. Regular exercise help kids attain and retain a healthy weight.
A healthy hart is crucial for a healthy life. It is the most important muscle that gets exercised when we workout. Regular physical activities are associated with multiple beneficial health outcomes such as cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness, bone health, mental health, and maintenance of healthy weight status.
Kids are going to look up to their parents for most of the things in life. Parents are children’s first teachers so it’s crucial that we set a good example for their impressionable minds.
Improved Cognitive Development
The relation between physical activities and brain development is linked and goes hand in hand for the entire life. Similar to adults, exercise facilitates children’s executive functions (select, organize and properly initiate goal-oriented actions). We know that physical fitness is associated with the greatest gains in academic performance in an educational setting. Basic cognitive functions related to attention and memory facilitate learning and these functions are enhanced by higher aerobic fitness.
Kids and teens are not exercising as much as they used to. Every day they end up spending hours in front of a screen – TV, smartphone, table etc. Increased “screen time” and lesser physical activities can have major implications for the health of our children. Check out below a few tips for parents from The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP):
• Restrict screen time – limit the time spent on TV, social media, and video games. Make sure these things do not take the place of sleep.
• Put a limit on your child’s screen time to 1 hour a day or less if he/she is between the age of 2 and 5.
• Choose quality kids programs and try to watch them too with your little ones. You might help them understand what they’re seeing.
• Keep TVs, computers, and video games out of your kids’ bedroom.
• Screen viewing during meal time is a big no no.
• Substitute screen time with play time. This will help your kids go out and interact more with other children.This will help them develop their social skills too.
Create Healthy Habits
In the United States, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that children and adolescents should get at least one hour of physical activity everyday. Encourage your kids to do fun activities such as climbing or playing on monkey bars as well as exercises for bone strengthening such as jumping or running.
As mentioned above, kids observe their parents closely and copy whatever they do. Follow some healthy habits then wait and see how your kids will follow and take these habits into adulthood.