Article submitted by Kathleen Thomas on behalf of Primrose Schools
It has been suggested by many medical experts that young children need a minimum of 60 minutes of physical activity a day to stay healthy. An unsettling amount of children, however, are not as physically active as they should be as seen in the following statistics:
• The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry states that between 16 and 33% of all children are considered obese.
• The Trust for America’s Health released figures that in 30 states 30% of the children are obese.
Physical inactivity, combined with poor eating habits, has contributed to these alarming figures.
Healthy Children Grow Into Healthy Adults
Children that learn such skills as balance, kicking, jumping, running, and other physical activities at a young age, say before attending child care, will grow into active adults. In addition to growing up into a healthy, active adult, an increase in physical activities has also been shown to boost the academic levels of children.
Children do not, however, learn to become physically active on their own. They must be taught these skills, interacted with, and encouraged to engage in these physical activities. Just as when they were a baby and parents encouraged their newborn to roll over, crawl and walk, parents must interact with their young children to become active.
Creating An Active Family Lifestyle
As a parent, you understand the importance of physical activity. You know that good habits now result in good habits later. You must lead by example and be active along with your children; you cannot simply tell them to “go out and play.” The following tips should help even the busiest of parents find ways to help their children become more active:
• Create a safe place for your children to be active in and out doors. Your children are more apt to play in an area that you designate specifically for that purpose than if you leave it to chance.
• Make sure you have age-appropriate supplies for your children to use. Just like in a classroom, a play area should be equipped with the things necessary to learn.
• Make sure there are a large variety of child-sized and lightweight toys to play with. Balls of all shapes and sizes for various games, hula-hoops, jump ropes, bats and rackets are just a few of the supplies you can have on hand.
• Sidewalk chalk is not only fun, it can be used for learning physical and academic purposes. Draw a hopscotch grid on your driveway and have fun filling in the squares. You can teach while you hop!
• Run and play in the sprinklers with your children when the weather permits. You remember how fun this was when you were a kid, pass on that joy and the additional physical benefits to your children.
• Encourage your children while they are playing. Remind them that no one catches perfect each time, no one throws straight without practice, no one masters the hula-hoop on the first try. Your encouragement alone will help build self-esteem while reaping the rewards of physical activity.
• Make the experience a memorable one for your children. You can play and interact with them, providing encouragement and a team mate. Your example will last for the rest of their life.
Children are born with the need for physical activity. As they begin to grow we encourage them to crawl, to walk, and to run. We interact with them daily so that they learn these things and grow. Interacting with your children on this level cannot stop once they are no longer toddlers, it must continue throughout their childhood so that they can grow strong and become healthy adults. It is a perfect way for you to spend quality time with your children, and the extra physical activity will also be good for your health.