September is National Childhood Obesity Month and while many parents know how important it is to stay active and physically engaged, cultivating a healthy lifestyle that extends into adulthood should start early. Ensuring that kids get the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity a day is an integral component in the development of healthy, well-adjusted kids who transition into healthy, well-adjusted adults! Benefits of regular exercise include:
- Building and maintaining fit joints, muscles and bones
- Improving emotional state and helping to combat anxiety/depression
- Developing coordination and motor skills
- Helping to increase confidence and self-esteem
- Preventing illness such as heart disease, obesity and Diabetes.
- Enhancing mental capacity and improving school performance.
Successfully getting your kids off the couch often comes down to 2 things: making the process fun/enjoyable and making it rational. Kids are more apt to engage in exercise when it's presented in the form of a game and when they have some company. Whether that means you solicit some participants around the neighborhood for a group bike ride or gather the family for a game of catch, you can make those 60 minutes more enjoyable.
Change It Up
To encourage your children to establish an active lifestyle, it's good to offer a routine that's varied. For example, those 60 minutes could include moderate aerobics, vigorous aerobics, muscle and or bone strengthening. It your child is strong but doesn't have the best stamina or quick but not as strong, he or she might be lacking one of these core areas of exercise.
These are the types of exercise that can be hidden within regular activities or games, such as going for a swing, playing catch or walking the dog. A general way to make sure your activity is yielding proper benefits is if you can hold a conversation but struggle to sing the "Happy Birthday" song. Holding a family jump rope competition (winner gets to choose the next activity), going for a swim or taking a bike ride can be great ways to start engaging in exercise together.
Vigorous exercises are the kind where you'll typically know you're burning calories. Your heart rate is increased, your sweat glands are working harder and there's a chance you might feel a bit sore the next day. The Center for Disease Control recommends children engage in vigorous aerobics a minimum of three days per week. A general way to identify if you're engaging in vigorous exercise is if you can only pant out a few words or a broken sentence, but you definitely should not be able to belt out a leisurely round of "Happy Birthday." Packing some water bottles and heading to a local park for a game of soccer, or a hike can be a fun and beautiful option for engaging in vigorous exercise as a family.
Don't Forget Those Muscles
Strengthening different muscle groups in kids goes far beyond lifting weights or bench pressing a bar. Children build their muscles mass by calisthenics and/or lifting their own body weight throughactivities like pushups, traversing the monkey bars at the playground or working against resistance (i.e., tug-o-war). A test to know you're strengthening muscles is if the area being worked feels fatigued and slightly weakened. Challenging your children to a sit-up or push up competition or heading to a climbing gym can be fun ways to work those muscles.
Bone strength is an area that often goes overlooked. Besides a balanced diet, healthy bones come from activity that produces impact and tension force on bones for growth -- strengthening and developing a healthy bone-mineral matrix. Building bone strength is critical for kids as it will greatly impact their skeletal health as they grow older. Teaching your child how to ice state at the local community center or enrolling in a yoga class together are can be great ways to focus on bone health as a family.
With winter just around the corner, it'll become increasingly important to proactively find ways to keep your kids active. Cultivating an environment that encourages physical activity is proven to pay dividends that last into adulthood. Western New York Catholic Schools are proud of our reputation for offering the best private schools in Buffalo while being known for fostering academic excellence in a nurturing atmosphere.
We believe our commitment to education involves all areas of life, from rewarding education in the classroom to establishing healthy habits outside it. Tell us what exercise activity you or your family enjoys the most in the comment section below.