Children and Exercise: Encouraging Fitness at a Young Age
The Department of Health and Human Services (1) says that kids need at least an hour of moderate physical activity each day. Physically active children have lower body fat, higher fitness levels, and stronger muscles and bones.
Sadly, a lot of children in America can’t wait to go home and sit on the couch, then watch TV or play with their gadgets all afternoon until the evening.
Here are some alarming facts:
- Kids these days spend more than six hours a day watching TV, playing on their phones and computers or other electronic devices. (2)
- One out of three kids in America are either obese or overweight. (3)
- Adolescents who are obese are more likely to become overweight as adults.
- Only one out of three kids are physically active.
Parents, you can play a key role in encouraging your children to make fitness a way of life. To help get you started, here are some tips from Physicians Premier, your Austin emergency room.
1. Discover a fun physical activity together. Take the initiative in helping your child find a sport activity that he enjoys. The more your child finds the activity fun, the more likely he will continue it. It’s great way to spend time together as a family.
2. Consult with your child’s doctor. Your pediatrician can help your child understand the importance of regular physical activity.
3. Be a role model. Kids who see their parents enjoying physical activity and sports are more likely to enjoy it. Get the family involved. Swim together, go for family bike rides, or take afternoon walks.
4. Turn of the television. The World Health Organization recommends that kids should have no more of one to two hours of screen time (4) – and this includes videos, TV, video games, and computers.
5. Get creative. Consider your child’s unique personality when searching for fun activities. If your child loves to climb, take him to the nearest climbing wall or jungle gym. If your child is artistic, suggest a nature hike where he can collect rocks and leaves that he can turn into a collage. If your child loves to read, walk with him to your neighborhood library.
Incorporating physical activities into your child’s routine sets the foundation for a lifetime of good health and fitness. There are lots of opportunities for your child to be active. Regular physical activity not only strengthens your child’s cardiovascular system, it can also boost your child’s self-esteem, increase flexibility, diffuse stress, and help your child appreciate the value of teamwork.
It is not too late to start instilling healthy habits in your children. For more tips on how you can stay healthy as a family, contact us at Physicians Premier, your Austin emergency room.
(1) “Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd Edition.” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2018, https://health.gov/paguidelines/second-edition/pdf/Physical_Activity_Guidelines_2nd_edition.pdf.
(2) Wakefield, Jane. “Children spend six hours or more a day on screens.” BBC News, 27 Mar. 2015, https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-32067158.
(3) “BMI in Children.” American Heart Association, https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/losing-weight/bmi-in-children.
(4) “W.H.O. Says Limited or No Screen Time for Children Under 5.” The New York Times, 24 Apr. 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/24/health/screen-time-kids.html.