Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Health and Fitness in Young Children

It's tougher to raise kids today than it was even 10 years ago. Parents now are concerned about diet and exercise as well as kids' safety and development. There are many articles in the news and on TV telling us about the childhood obesity epidemic. The concern is growing because we've created a lifestyle which encourages all of us to sit - in front of the TV, in front of the computer, in front of the Play Station. Every child - even toddlers - needs to get at least 60 minutes of active play every day. It's scary when you read that kids today get less than 15 minutes of vigorous exercise a day, drinks more than 20 ounces of soda pop, and spends more than 20% of their time watching television. No wonder our kids are less fit and more fat than children from the 1960s.
The figures about obesity in children are startling. In only one state, Michigan, 33% of the girls and 34% of the boys are considered overweight. The national average is 29%. And 36% of those boys and girls have elevated cholesterol levels too, which is 11-18% higher than the U.S. average. Nationwide, our kids are developing adult diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol. We believe our toddlers are active all day because they wear US out, right? In fact, in nursery schools or daycare, they spend most of their time sitting! Our kids need to develop a healthier lifestyle, getting more exercise at the same time they are adopting healthier eating habits. Everyone in America is at risk for these health problems due to our poor eating habits and sedentary lifestyles. Our kids learn by playing, and when they play, they imitate what they see adults do. Being a good example naturally is the best way of teaching your children.
Our kids learn by playing, and when they play, they imitate what they see adults do. Being a good example naturally is the best way of teaching your children. Showing them how to eat right and get more exercise is crucial today. The percentage of overweight and obese kids has more than doubled over the past 30 years. Even thought many factors contribute to this epidemic, our children spend too much time sitting around - a LOT more than they used to. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the average child watches nearly 3 hours of TV a day - making 5 1/2 hours of sitting per day after adding time spent on video games, computers etc.The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) says that children under 2 years of age watch no TV and kids over 2 and above watch only 1-2 hours.
How much exercise is enough? All kids 2 and above need 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise most days of the week (preferable all days). Stretching exercises help improve flexibility, allowing muscles and joints to bend and move easily through the full range of motion. Kids look for opportunities every day to stretch when they try to get a toy just out of reach, practice a split, or do cartwheels. Climbing exercises improves coordination and planning skills.
Kids who get more exercise sleep better, learn better and are healthier. If you as a parent add regular activity into your daily routines, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator, is key to instilling in your children the way to a healthier lifestyle. Keep it fun and you can count on that your child will come back for more.

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