Daily Physical Activity Part of Your Child's Life
By Rae Pica
some of the bad news about sedentary lifestyles:
Forty percent of children ages 5 to 8 show at least one heart disease
risk factor, including hypertension and obesity, which among children
has doubled over the past two decades.
The first signs of arteriosclerosis are appearing at age 5 - something
never before seen in anyone under the age of 30.
American children born in 2000 face a one-in-three chance of developing
Type 2 diabetes - what used to be called adult-onset diabetes!
This is thought to be the first generation of children with a shorter
lifespan than their parents'.
good news is that it doesn't take much to turn things around. We
just have to make sure our kids are physically active! Following
are some tips for making that happen:
Turn off the TV! Research shows children are being electronically
entertained an average of five to six hours a week. Without electronics,
they'll have to find other ways to keep themselves entertained.
Encourage your children to engage in active play. Research has demonstrated
that the most active children are those whose parents have encouraged
them to be active.
Play with your children! Blow bubbles for them to chase, play tag
and hide-and-seek, put on an up-tempo song and boogie in the living
room, or break out the pots and pans and hold a parade around the
Serve as a role model, taking part in physical activity yourself
Take the children to parks, playgrounds, or beaches; on hikes, bowling,
or skating during vacations and weekends.
Don't send the wrong message about physical activity by endlessly
circling the parking lot for the spot closest to the door. Instead,
make a game out of parking as far as possible from the door and
finding different ways to get to it (walking backward, tiptoeing,
jogging, or skipping).
When it's time for gift giving, select items like hula hoops; balls
in a variety of shapes, sizes, and textures; roller skates; or a
wading pool or swing set. When shopping for games, Twister has more
to offer than a board game. And CDs with lively music are a better
choice than movie videos.
Don't expect organized sports to take care of your child's physical
activity needs. There's more waiting than moving in most structured,
Rae Pica is a children's physical activity specialist and the author
of A Running Start: How Play, Physical Activity, and Free Time Create
a Successful Child (Marlowe & Co., 2006) and Great Games for
Young Children (Gryphon House, 2006). She has shared her expertise
with such clients as the Sesame Street Research Department, the
Centers for Disease Control, Gymboree Play & Music, and the
President's Council on Physical Fitness & Sports. You can visit
Rae at www.movingandlearning.com.