Count Your Steps: Getting Kids Active
At Medical Weight Loss of New York, Dr. Wendy Scinta promotes kids’ health by giving every pediatric patient a pedometer before leaving the office. The goal? 10,000 steps a day. Kids who suffer from childhood obesity are encouraged to perform simple exercises to lose weight. Sometimes getting started is as easy as counting the steps taken throughout the day. Kids need to get moving to get healthy.
Exercise for weight loss is as important to kids as it is to adults. While you don’t have much control over the speed of your metabolism, you can control how many calories you burn through your level of physical activity.
The more active you are the more calories you burn. In fact, some people who are said to have a fast metabolism are probably just more active — and maybe more fidgety — than others.
Healthy kids can burn calories through:
- Regular aerobic exercise. Aerobic exercise includes activities such as walking, bicycling and swimming. As a general goal, adults should include at least 30 minutes of physical activity in a daily routine. Physical exercises for kids may be less structured than adult fitness routines depending on the age of the child. Consider group activities like intramural sports or martial arts classes. Walk, hike or bike as a family.
- Strength training. Strength training exercises, such as weightlifting, are important because they help counteract muscle loss associated with aging. And since muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue does, muscle mass is a key factor in weight loss. While kids aren’t likely to start lifting weights, they can develop muscle through fun exercises for kids or sports such as gymnastics.
- Lifestyle activities. Any extra movement helps burn calories. Incorporate movement and activity into your family’s daily routine. Look into fun summer activities for kids. Encourage family activities like gardening together, washing the car or playing games outside. Kids’ fitness can be as simple as extra trips to the playground and more time out in the yard.
Specialty Exercise Programs
Some children suffering from obesity require guidance and a more structured exercise plan to lose weight. Options might include:
- Aquatherapy programs at physical therapy clinics for children who are less mobile. Some aquatherapy programs have treadmills in the water which allow a child to build muscle and burn energy without the pain it would cause on land.
- Exercise specialists and trainers who work one on one with children.
- Gym programs structured specifically for children.
- Local walking or after school programs just for children.