Tips For Daily Physical Activity
Here's the bad news about sedentary lifestyles:
- Forty percent of children ages 5 to 8 show at least one heart disease risk factor, including hypertension and obesity. Among children this condition has doubled during the past two decades, according to an article in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise.
- According to studies by the Institute for Aerobic Research, the first signs of arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) are appearing at age 5 – something never before seen in anyone younger than age 30.
- Children ages 6 to 10 are dying of sudden cardiopulmonary arrest, according to a report in the New England Journal of Medicine.
- And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported in a recent study that American children born in 2000 face a one in three chance of developing Type 2 diabetes – something that used to be called "adult-onset diabetes."
There's certainly a lot of bad news about the nation's sedentary lifestyles. However, the good news is that it doesn't take much to turn things around. We just have to make sure our kids are physically active! Here are 10 tips for making that happen.
1. Turn off the TV!
Children are being electronically entertained an average of five to six hours a week, according to recent research. Without electronics, they'll have to find other ways to keep themselves entertained. Now's the time to have the kids head outdoors!
2. Encourage your children to engage in active play.
Research shows that the children who are most active are those whose parents have encouraged them to be active.
3. Play with your children!
Blow bubbles for them to chase, play tag and hide-and-seek or put on an up-tempo song and boogie in the living room. Or put on a John Philip Sousa march, break out the pots and pans and hold a parade around the house!
4. Serve as a role model.
Take part in physical activity – cheerfully – yourself. Get the whole family involved.
5. Skip the amusement park.
Instead, take the children to parks, playgrounds, beaches and on hikes during vacations and weekends. At amusement parks they'll just stand in lines and then sit on rides.
6. Avoid mixed messages.
Don't send the wrong message about physical activity by endlessly circling the parking lot for the spot closest to the door. Instead, make a game out of parking as far from the door as possible and finding different ways to get to it (walking backward, tiptoeing, jogging or skipping, etc.).
7. Give the gift of fitness.
When it's time for gift-giving, select items such as hula-hoops, balls in a variety of shapes, sizes and textures, roller skates, a wading pool or a swing set. When shopping for games, a physical game such as Twister has more to offer than a board game. And CDs with lively music are a better choice than movies.
8. Go beyond organized sports.
While organized sports are a great way for kids to get active, don't expect them to take care of all your child's physical activity needs. Oftentimes there's more waiting than moving in organized, adult-directed games. So be sure your child is getting enough exercise off the field, too.
9. Fight to keep fitness in schools.
If your child's school doesn't have a physical education program, fight to get it back! If the program is in danger of being cut, fight to keep physical education and recess in your child's school or future school. Research shows that, among other things, physical activity contributes to a better attitude toward school and improves academic achievement and test scores.
10. Keep it fun.
Make sure your child associates physical activity with FUN! By playing tag, hide and seek or even jumping your sillies out, your child won't even realize he's getting a workout.