Child Fitness: Helping Children Achieve Fitness Goals

Posted: Aug 27 in Getting Active, Lifestyle by

Your child is your prized possession and means more to you than anyone can imagine.  Yet, there he sits – in front of the video game system, spending his days playing a game that you have no idea what the goal is, nor do you even attempt to get it.  Or, perhaps your daughter is a pretty social girl, until she comes home from school.  She likes to spend her time online, chatting away with her friends in a language that makes you wonder if she speaks a foreign tongue.  This is today’s child and this is today’s largest problem.

As children move through the last decade, more and more of them are becoming sedentary in their lifestyle.  It is easier to find a street that it is quiet now than it is to find one that has children playing a game of kickball or baseball.  In fact, fewer children are becoming involved in organized sports.  Many that do become involved do so because their parents make them.  It all sounds so depressing, but in reality it is up to you, the parent, to make it change and to become something different.  Why should you do so though?

The fact is that children are much more likely to face the onset of health problems that those entering into their middle years face.  Some children are 10 to 20 pounds overweight.  Others are as much as 100 pounds overweight. In either case, the onset of childhood diabetes is a large one.  Or, perhaps it is high blood pressure that will cause them to need medications to monitor it.  A variety of ailments can can plague the overweight child. 

Why Does It Happen? 

While most parents do not want to realize it, there are two ways children become overweight.  One of them is that they do not eat a healthy diet.  Filled with junk food and fatty foods, children have a hard time getting the right amount of calories and the nutrition that they need. 

The second problem is physical activity, or more accurately, lack thereof.  While their muscles are getting a workout in their fingers from playing that video game, it is unlikely that they are burning enough calories for it to justify the intake of food that they have.  Therefore, with more calories coming in than can be used by the body, the body stores them as fat to use at a later time. 

Most parents also do not realize that their child needs a solid amount of physical activity every day.  That amount is high, but it does provide them with the best resources and tools to help them to fight off these illnesses and problems with their weight.  For children aged 6 to 12 years old, the amount of physical activity they need is quite high.

The National Association for Sports and Physical Education recommends specific guidelines for exercise for your child.  Children should be able to get at least the 60 minutes or more of physical activity per day.  That is one full hour of running, playing or being otherwise physical.  This amount is broken down into periods of 15 minutes or more each.  Your child does not need to run laps for an hour, in other words!  In addition to this, there should be no time during the day that the child is sedentary for more than two hours or more besides when they are sleeping. 

As you can see, this is very demanding on the parent to manage, but there are ways to make it happen and most of the time you can do them right at your own home.  What’s more, you need to be sure that when your child is getting 60 minutes of activity that is actually 60 minutes of movement, not five minute sprints around the baseball diamond and 40 minutes of sitting down.  How can you manage this type of activity for your child?  There are several ways to do just that.

Tips To Get Them Active

Many people believe that if they put their child into an organized sport they can count on their child getting the fitness that the child needs.  The problem with this theory is that most kids do not play seven sports!  Children that do participate in sports usually only have one day a week worth of practice and then one other day that they play the game.  On those days, they may very well get the physical activity that they need, but that is only two out of the seven days that they need to move.  Instead of planning on organized sports, then, consider other ways that your child can be more active.

Make It A Family Affair

A good way to show your child you are serious about physical fitness is simply to show them that you are doing it too!  Most children learn from example before they learn from textbooks or preaching.  What you do, they will do.  Therefore, incorporate it into your daily routine with your child.  When the child is up in the morning, give them a few activities to do before school.  Then, after dinner that night, plan on a family walk or even a game of catch outdoors.  Get them outdoors to cut the grass or to help with the yard work.  Sure, it may not be fun, but it is physical stimulation that they need on a daily basis (and perhaps a valuable lesson to boot!).

Allow Them To Be Kids

While many kids will be reluctant at first to spend a lot of time playing and simply running around, once they do get in the habit of getting outdoors and playing with friends, encourage it.  Children that play in a free play type of way are often burning more calories than those that are playing organized sports.  The fact is that games that we all grew up on like tag and bike riding are the perfect activities for burning calories and for getting into shape.  Your child knows it and so should you.  Encourage them to get outdoors and be active any way that they want to be.

Give Them What They Need To Play

One of the best things for you to do for your child is to give them the opportunity and the equipment to play.  If you motivate them with balls, nets, and goals, they are more likely to actually play the game you want them to.  The best news yet is that you do not have to spend a small fortune on these products.  You simply need to purchase things, or get them out of hiding, that they can play with.  For example, you can purchase playground balls for under $5 in most sporting goods departments.  You can purchase jump ropes and other fun outdoor toys for much less.  While something larger such as a bike will cost more, they may be able to use it long term, therefore making it worth the investment.  If you want them to ride that bike, be sure that you provide yourself with the necessary bike to help to encourage them to ride!

Get all of the toys for playing out and show them off.  A game of catch with dad is a great way to get them interested not only in playing with dad but the game itself.  They are more likely to think positively about the sport and get the mitts out for their friends next time around.  This allows them to really enjoy playing outdoors and playing with their friends.  It is a great way for them to show off their skills and to burn calories!

Put A Curb On Electronics

There is no doubt that your child wants to play his favorite video games and that she wants to chat on the web.  Those things are fine to allow them to do, as long as you limit how much time they spend doing them.  Children need time to do the activities that they like to do, but this type of activity is not active enough for their bodies to benefit.  Therefore, it is up to you to limit the amount of time they spend participating in these activities.

Many parents make it necessary for the child to head outside for several hours before they are able to come in and hit the video games.  Or, perhaps after they cut the grass they can get online to chat with their friends.  By making sure that they get their necessary physical activity in, you are protecting their body and you are protecting their life.  It may not be the popular thing to do with your child, but it is always going to be the better, health-benefiting thing to do.

As a parent, it is up to you to care for your child’s fitness as well as his diet and safety.  It is not an easy task.  Yet laying down the rules and playing an active role in their physical activity will help you to be sure that they are healthy.  A child that is right at their target weight is less likely to become ill or to suffer from life threatening diseases than one that is overweight.  While it may seem like torture to them now, they will appreciate it as they get older.

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