Every year around Halloween, I think about all of the candy that our kids are about to eat. While collecting bags full of sweets makes this one of the most favorite holidays for kids, parents need to exert better control over what our children are eating at times like these and everyday. A little splurge on special treats here and there is not what concerns me. However, the steady climb in the nation’s childhood obesity rate is concerning. Parents can help their children avoid the obesity trap by making sure they are eating nutritious meals in correct portions, avoiding sugary treats (even at holiday time!) and fitting 20-30 minutes of physical activity into each day.
Children often exercise in short bursts, but in order to achieve a good fitness level, they need to keep their heart rates up for at least 20 to 30 minutes at a time. Many activities can help children raise their heart rates, such as walking at a faster pace than normal, or participating in more vigorous activities such as running and bike riding. Sustained physical activity will help children achieve cardiovascular fitness, build bone mass and strength, manage their weight, and help prevent type 2 diabetes, which studies have shown is also on the rise in children who lead a sedentary lifestyle.
Exercise and eating right is a family affair. Parents are role models for their children’s physical activity and food choices. Spend more time together engaged in a physical activity, even if it’s taking a walk after dinner. It’s much easier for children to stay healthy and adopt good habits if they see their parents making these same choices. In order for our children to develop healthy habits they need their parents’ encouragement and support. Take the lead by making choices that will promote a healthy lifestyle for your family and your children will be more likely to follow your lead in the future.
Activity tips to help avoid childhood obesity:
- Limit sedentary television, video game, and computer time. Remember, too, that television commercials encourage children to crave the sugary foods they see.
- When your child watches TV, encourage him or her to do some exercises during the show (or at least during the commercials) such as sit-ups, push-ups or jumping jacks.
- Plan weekend family activities involving exercise.
- Help your child plan group activities for friends, such as skating or hiking.
- Your family does not need to join a health club or gym or buy expensive equipment to get exercise. Walking is inexpensive and convenient. Weights can be made from soup cans or bottles filled with sand or water.
- Provide positive rewards for your child for engaging in physical activities, such as workout clothes, a new basketball, or an evening of roller-skating.
- Set an example for your child by being active yourself and trying different types of exercises or sports activities.
- Provide positive feedback about your child’s lifestyle changes without focusing on the scale.
- Be your child’s exercise buddy. Plan daily walks or bike rides and set goals together for increasing physical activity.
With all of the temptations available, it is difficult to battle sedentary activities like TV and video games as well as the overindulgence of sweets, especially at holiday time. However, the harmful combination of the two is hurting our kids. By following the activity tips above along with diverting the attention away from the sweets (for example, by offering some toys--how about a new pair of skates, a jump rope or ball?!-- to your child in exchange for the candy or focusing more on the festivities, hay rides and cornmazes), we can work towards better health for our kids. It is our precious children’s future that depends on forming healthy habits now.
At Conshohocken Physical Therapy, our mission is to make a positive impact, both personally and therapeutically, on every person who enters our office. We will improve the quality of your life with a friendly, evidence-based and innovative approach.
You will experience pain relief, improved motion and a greater quality of life. You will be treated by a Doctor of Physical Therapy who has the most specialized training to help you get back in motion. You will get direct attention from your Physical Therapist for at least 30 minutes during every visit.
Learn more about Conshohocken Physical Therapy by visiting us online at www.conshypt.com.