C'mon kids, better weather is coming! So maybe we can get out and get moving. Everyone can benefit from exercise. For children and adolescents any moderate or higher intensity physical activity that involves "huffing and puffing" and adds up to 1 hour a day can improve muscular strength, bone mass, cardiovascular fitness, weight, anxiety and stress, self-esteem and decrease their risk for certain diseases.
Children and adolescents who are just beginning to be physically active should start out slow and gradually increase amount of time they are active and the intensity of the exercise. Start with 10 minute exercise periods a couple of times a day 2-3 times each week and increase from there. This will help prevent injuries but also help from feeling discouraged if goals are unrealistic.
Let's make our parents responsible. Tell them they should:
- Set a positive example by leading active lifestyles and making physical activity part of the family's daily routine.
- Provide a convenient and safe place to be active. The easier it is to access the more likely children will get to it!
- Provide active toys and equipment and take children to places where they can be active.
- Ensure that the activity is appropriate for age and abilities and is safe. Protective equipment like helmets and pads should be used.
- Offer positive reinforcement for participating and encourage trying new activities.
- Make it FUN! It can be structured or non-structured but it should be something that is enjoyable. It can be team or individual sports, walking, running, skating, bicycling, swimming, jumping rope, playground activities and yes... yard work!
- Play too. How long has it been since you rolled down a hill or had a great game of dodge ball? Designate blocks of time and schedule family walks or bike rides or arrange active games the whole family can play.
Remember in addition to working out as a family you should share and encourage healthful eating habits. Check with your doctor if you have any concerns about exercise and see your dietitian for healthy eating guidance.