Kids and Fitness: Weighing the Health Benefits
Kids and Fitness: Key to Combating Obesity
There has been much attention focused lately on the growing problem of obesity in the United States and the need for children to be become more physically fit. That's why the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), along with a number of other public health organizations, is working to educate parents and other role models about the importance of preventing childhood obesity by increasing fitness levels.
Why Children Should Be Active
Consider the fact that children who are sedentary (such as those who play video games or watch television for long periods of time throughout the day) put themselves at risk for a number of serious health problems, including coronary artery disease, stroke, high blood pressure and diabetes. In an effort to combat these serious consequences, the American Heart Association recommends that children engage in 30 to 60 minutes of vigorous physical activity on a daily basis. This can be all at once, or can be broken down into a few shorter periods throughout the day.
When your children are physically active regularly, they will enjoy a host of benefits, such as:
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Reducing risk of serious diseases
- Enjoying a longer life expectancy
- Experiencing increased confidence
- Creating healthy habits for life
How to Encourage Your Kids
One of the best ways to encourage your children to be more active is to set a good example yourself. Begin by incorporating regular exercise into your day and your children are likely to follow suit. You can also play an important role in encouraging the kids by planning easy activities you can do as a family.
Here, some suggestions of things you can do together every day:
- Go for a walk after dinner.
- Chase a Frisbee or soccer ball.
- Take a bike ride.
- Fly a kite at your local park.
- Plan a hike on a local trail.
- Go swimming.
It's also important to approach the kids and fitness connection as a long-term commitment. You want to provide a safe and supporting environment that will encourage your children to continue being physically active for life.
Try to set limits when it comes to watching television, using video games and sitting in front of the computer. AAP recommends keeping the total amount of time engaged in these inactive types of things to no more than two hours each day. With a little effort, you can get your kids off the couch and engaged them in a variety of fun and healthy activities.
American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)
American Heart Association (AHA)
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