Ok, I think I had some type of writer’s block the past few weeks but I’m coming out of it!! There are always so many topics running through my mind that I want to write about. Honestly, it is often difficult to pick one. Something I think I need to promote now is EXERCISE. Especially this time of the year when the weather is starting to get nicer! Here goes…
Everyone would probably agree the past few weeks in the Philadelphia area the weather has been extraordinary. It definitely puts me in a good mood. Spring sports are beginning. People are outside walking, biking, running, etc. Although what we put into our bodies has a great effect on our health, keeping active is vitally important. You’ve all heard it before. Kids are much less active now than when most of us were growing up. I don’t want to give the impression I’m old (I’m definitely NOT). Back in the day, we went outside and climbed trees, went sledding, ran, played tag, rode bikes, played hopscotch, hit a tennis ball against a wall, and I really did walk to school!! Last winter I suggested sledding to my daughter and she replied, “I hate walking back up the hill.” That used to be part of the fun (definitely not something that would deter me from sledding)!! Now the opportunities for our kids to sit inside and watch TV, play video games, text, email, Skype, Facetime, etc. are overwhelming. This has become “normal.” It is a difficult battle to fight but getting our children active in any way, shape, or form must become a priority.
What are some of the benefits of exercise for our children? The same as for us but even more important because starting when they are young makes it all the more likely they will continue to exercise as adults. Exercising three to four times a week increases bone strength/density, cardiovascular endurance, speed, flexibility, strong muscles, and better balance. Studies show that psychologically, children and teens who exercise regularly are in better moods (ok, where are those teens?), have higher self-confidence, and greater academic success.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends sixty minutes of physical activity a day for kids. It does not have to be done all at one time. Thirty minutes in gym class, twenty minutes doing Dance Revolution and ten minutes walking the dog all count. The best way to get your child to exercise is to be a good role model and exercise yourself. The activity should be fun and diverse for your child – something they are looking forward to doing. Exercising together is a great way to encourage activity. Variety is also key. Great cardiovascular activities include walking/jogging, bike riding and jumping rope. A mini-trampoline is great to jump on when watching TV to get a little extra exercise (in the proper environment, of course). Intramural sports teams, dance and karate lessons, tennis lessons, and classes at the local YMCA are all great options. Our local Main Line YMCA has a workout room just for kids. The exercise equipment is geared toward younger bodies. They have trainers available to make up a program for your child. My daughter went for several months last year with two of her girlfriends and loved it.
Now is the time to get out there with your child or teen and get physical! Remember it must be something your child ENJOYS. A good way to get your child started is by doing something together. The other option that works well is have your son or daughter do something with a friend. Log on to www.kidshealth.org to read more about the benefits of exercise, suggested routines, and lots of other useful health information. This site is written for kids and teens and has lots of material regarding nutrition and fitness. Now that the weather is warmer it is the perfect time to get outdoors and SHAKE YOUR BOOTY!!!!
Movement is a medicine for creating change in a person’s physical, emotional, and mental states. Carol Welch