You are probably well aware of the recent dramatic increase in obesity among children and teens. It is truly heartbreaking to see young children weighing more than twice what is normal for their age. They are setting themselves up for a shortened lifespan, filled with countless health problems. An absence of healthy eating habits coupled with little to no physical activity, has lead these children into a sedentary lifestyle. But the good news is that it can be reversed.
Kids are do not by any means need to have a regimented workout schedule – at least not until they are teens and even then it’s questionable. But kids do need to partake in physical activity of some sort. Starting as an infant your children need to be active several times a day. Up to around age five, normal play (running around the park or backyard, dancing to upbeat music in the living room, chasing a ball around) is enough to keep them in shape. But once it is time to start school you need to take a more active role in their physical well-being.
Fitness in Public Schools
If you send your children to public school, please check to find out exactly what level of physical education the school provides. If the school does offer regular P.E. classes, ask your child what they really do in this class. Standing in line for an entire class to hit a ball against the wall once is not acceptable. Unfortunately, many schools are cutting the P.E. departments drastically due to budget cuts, creating huge classes of 50 or more or leaving only one class a week in some schools. They rely heavily on their organized sport program to exercise children. This is philosophy leaves a lot to be desired. If your child is not ready to focus on just one sport it can frustrate them into a sedentary lifestyle. Furthermore, if you child is not the greatest athlete they may not make the team at all and then get zero physical activity on a regular basis. You have to step up in this situation. Ride your bikes to and from school each day. Have a family sporting day on the weekends. Anything to get your child’s heart pumping.
Fitness as a Homeschooler
If you choose to home-school, it becomes even more important to include physical education in your child’s daily schooling. Contact a home school co-op in your area to see what is offered through their program. Often the co-op has arranged price-breaks for home school families at local dance, karate, swimming, and gymnastics facilities. You should also look into what the local recreation department offers in terms of rec league sports and activity classes. It may take a few different sports or activities for your child to find one that can hold his interest but it will be worth it to shop around.
Encouraging physical activity in your young children will create a life saving habit to be carried on to their adulthood. Making exercise a part of your family’s life will bring you closer together while extending everyone’s life!! What could be better than that?
A quick tip – don’t run out an buy the best, most expensive sporting equipment for each activity or sport your child shows interest in. Start at a used sporting goods store for basic needs to participate in the sport. Then in the future – at least after one complete season – consider upgrading to higher quality equipment. When your children are young they will grow very quickly, so be cautions when paying a hefty price for special shoes.