According to KeepKidsHealthy.com, an increasing number of children are obese, and if no intervention is made, 80% of them will stay overweight as adults. This can put them at risk for many medical problems, including diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and sleep apnea. Obesity can also adversely affect their self-esteem.
An important way to help your child with weight loss is giving them the tools to maintain a normal weight. And more importantly, teaching your children healthy habits to encourage them to participate in regular physical activity. This can include participating in a physical education class or extracurricular sports at their school or in the community.
How Often Does Your Child Exercise?
To prevent injury, it is important for your child to warm up before exercising. This should include about five minutes of light activity, such as walking, calisthenics (jumping jacks, bending, knee lifts), and stretching.
After warming up, your child should perform 15 to 40 minutes of a regular exercise each day. This can include fast walking, jogging, biking, roller blading, running, swimming, jumping rope or group activities, such as playing soccer, hockey, volleyball, baseball, basketball, or football.
You should also encourage regular physical activity as part of your child's regular daily routine. This can include:
• Walking or riding your bike instead of driving for short distances.
• Taking a walk with a friend or walk the family dog each afternoon.
• Using stairs instead of escalators or elevators, especially if you have to walk out of your way to find the stairs.
• Parking your car at the end of the parking lot and walking to the entrance of the mall or grocery store.
• Chores, such as doing yardwork or housework.
• Family exercise: go for routine family walks or bike rides in the neighborhood or local park.
To prevent injury, it is also important for your child to cool down after exercising. Like the warm up, this should include about five minutes of light activity, such as walking, calisthenics (jumping jacks, bending, knee lifts), and stretching.
If supervised by a well trained and certified instructor, strength training can be an important part of your child's fitness routine. Strength training or weight training exercises can lead to an increase in muscle mass. Since muscle burns more calories than fat, by increasing your child's muscle mass, it can make it easier for him or her to lose weight and/or maintain a healthy weight.
However, the AAP position is that "children and adolescents should avoid the practice of weight lifting, power lifting, and body building, as well as the repetitive use of maximal amounts of weight in strength training programs, until they have reached Tanner stage 5 level of developmental maturity." This usually occurs at around age 15.
Younger children, if well supervised, can perform less strenuous strength training exercises, especially if they do not lift heavy or maximal weights.
Strength training exercises can be done after the cooling down period or on alternate days from their regular exercises and they can include:
• Leg lifts
• Knee bends
• Heel raises
• Arm curls with free weights
• Other exercises that involve lifting weights, either free weights or by using weight machines
Be a Good Role Model
To help get your kids motivated to exercise and eat healthier, it is very important that you provide your child with a healthy lifestyle that they can model their own life after. This includes having healthy eating habits and participating in a regular exercise program. Also, limit how much time that the family watches television.
• Be patient. It can take time to get your child involved in a regular fitness routine.
• Get the whole family involved. Healthy eating habits and regular exercise should be a regular part of your family's life. It is much easier if everyone in the house follows these guidelines, than if your child has to do it alone.
• Prevent dehydration by having your child drink one to two eight ounce glasses of water before exercising and give them free access to water during their exercise routine.
Information courtesy of KeepKidsHealthy.com.