There is no doubt that the landscape of our active lives has changed over the last several decades. The car has become paramount to our daily lives, taking us everywhere we need to go and everywhere that we need to go spans greater distances than it once had. TVs, computers, and video games are now integrated into our every moment keeping us productively on task or complacently occupied. Our jobs have also become more sedentary and the hours that we work, longer. These changes have impacted us greatly. Globally, there are more than 1 billion overweight adults, 300 million are obese. Alarmingly, some studies have found that up to 70% of our kids are inactive. Childhood obesity is steadily on the rise. And, children are suffering from health problems, like high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and elevated blood cholesterol, that previously weren’t seen until adulthood. Quite literally, we have to get moving on change.
Personal Trainer, Travis Grosjean, explains 4 healthy habits that you can integrate into your families life!
The art of having fun, actively! Everyone benefits from unstructured play. Adolescents benefit greatly from vigorous play, like tag, chase, random running, swimming, cycling, walking, racing, jumping rope, tree climbing, playing at the playground. Even infants require active play, in a safe, nurturing and minimally structured play environment. Active play should be fun and is a wonderful parent/child bonding opportunity. A simple game of catch, shooting some hoops, or just running around the grass with your tot not only gets the blood pumping and the muscles moving, but can be great time spent together.
Try to get some active transportation in where you can. You won’t be able to walk or cycle everywhere that you go, but you can do your best. If you need to go to the convenience store or restaurant around the corner, walk or cycle instead of driving. If you have to drive, park your car in the furthest parking space that you can and walk the distance to the entrance.
Physical Activity Participation or Organized Sports.
I say physical activity participation -or- organized sports, because physical activity does not have to be athletic. It should be vigorous and enjoyable. It has been found that kids enjoy sports because they enjoy learning and improving their skill, getting stronger and healthier, and develop role models. But, organized sports aren’t for everyone and they don’t have to be. What is most important is that the activity is enjoyable, and easily continued.
Limited Screen Time.
Children who spend more time playing outdoors are more likely to remain active through adulthood than children kept indoors. With that said, it is important to limit TV, video game and computer time, keep TVs out of bedrooms, and create opportunities for active outdoor play for kids and as a family. And, if you are up to it, power your television and other screened equipment with Cycle Power, such as seen in Mother Earth News (I have often wondered why gym equipment wasn’t designed to be self -sustaining.)
For your kids, besides the obvious body weight benefits, they benefit greatly from being active at an early age. They typically are in better physical and mental health, have higher academic performance and with these healthy habits, they are more likely to live a healthier lifestyle through adulthood. These early years have also been identified as a critical period for growth and acquisition of motor skills that are needed to be physically active throughout life.
How much activity should our family strive for? Here are the general recommendations, as reported in Pediatrics, the publication of American Academy of Pediatrics and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. However, check with your doctor if you are starting any new exercise routine.
Best Practice Guidelines for Physical Activity at Child Care
Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans
American Heart Association www.heart.org
The Obesity Society www.obesity.org
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention www.cdc.gov
World Health Organization www.who.int
Department of Health & Human Services www.health.gov
American Academy of Pediatrics www.pediatrics.org