Friday, May 29, 2009

The best thing we can do for our kids!

If you have kids, you've got to help them learn to love to move their bodies and eat well at an early age. Then it will be easy to continue as they get older!

I had the opportunity to work with some Vancouver kids today to teach them that working out and eating healthy can be a ton of fun. Check out the video above.
It's so cute!

Here's the reality...

These days kids hardly get any activity. Most schoolwork involves sedentary activity and with television and video games as after-school pastimes, the temptation to sink into couch potato-land becomes pretty overwhelming for our kids. Check out these startling stats:
  • Children today are approximately 40% less active than they were 30 years ago
  • 20% of children and teens are overweight enough to threaten their future health
  • One report states that the number of overweight children ages 6-11 has increased by 50% in the last 15 years and by 40% in those ages 12-17. Lack of exercise is considered a major contributing factor
  • 40% of children already have at least one risk factor for heart disease and reduced fitness due to an inactive lifestyle
  • Children spend an average of 26 hours a week watching television and also spend 25-30 hours a week sitting behind a desk
As the school year winds down, parents can plan ahead to ensure your kids get lots of activity this summer. “Go outside and do something" or "Go ride your bike” you yell to your kids as you watch your favorite daytime show or football game. The “Do as I say, not as I do!” approach doesn’t have a very good track record. Children tend to mimic the actions of their parents so, if the extent of your daily or after-work activity consists of channel surfing and munching on chips, guess what fitness rituals your children will develop. The lifestyle habits you’re developing in your children today will determine how much junk will clog their arteries 30 years from now.

There are tons of activities that you could easily be doing with your kids. Cycling, inline skating, walking, hiking, a trip to the local pool, a pick-up game of basketball or soccer, … You could even design your own workout together including walks to the local park and calisthenics using the available equipment. The possibilities are endless.

Here’s some goals you should strive for. The American College of Sports Medicine guidelines for exercise and children are as follows:
  • Children should be involved in at least 30 minutes of daily physical activity like walking to school or cycling around the neighborhood, performing household chores or running errands.
  • Children should exercise three times a week for at least 20 minutes with activities that require moderate to vigorous levels of exertion, like brisk walking, stair-climbing, racquet sports, jogging, dance, swimming laps, skating, cross-country skiing or cycling.
  • For most children, it’s fine to do 15-20 minutes of resistance or strength training sessions twice a week using higher repetitions (25 reps) and lower resistance as long as there’s proper instruction and supervision.
  • Children should stretch on alternative days for 60 seconds each stretch.
  • Vary the activities to work different parts of the body.
  • Involve children in deciding what to do.
Kids who exercise can experience the following benefits:
  • Daily physical activity builds a healthy heart and stimulates muscle and bone growth
  • Healthy, fit kids have more energy, sleep better and often have better eating habits than their sedentary peers
  • One six year study found that the academic performance of students who exercised regularly had significantly improved compared to students who did not participate in regular physical activity
  • It appears that children benefit from better concentration, memory, creativity, problem-solving ability and overall mood for up to two hours following exercise
  • One report states that exercise can boost a child’s self-confidence and self-image. It also reduces aggression and decreases anxiety and depression.
So start them young and be a great example for them!

Yours in health and fitness,

Sherri McMillan

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