Maintaining a healthy weight and working out are important elements to integrate into the new year for the entire family, including the kids! Weight and fitness influence not only childhood’s health issues, but also adulthood’s well-being. Michael Berry, Chair of the Health and Exercise Science Department at Wake Forest University, indicates fun is an important part of the big picture for fit, healthy children.
National and family concerns
According to the nation’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, doctors and scientists are concerned about the rise of obesity in children because weight issues can lead to problems related to heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, asthma, and sleep apnea. Children need at least 60 minutes a day of physical activity, including muscle-strengthening exercises, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Involve the entire family to increase fun and results
Michael Berry, whose work at Wake Forest University targets advancing the understanding of health and the prevention/treatment of chronic disease and physical disability, indicates that including fitness into New Year’s resolutions that involve the entire family can make working out and losing weight more fun for children. Additionally, Berry says, “Fitness with the kids must include more than a predictable schedule. You must engage the kids and even make exercise a little unusual to get them excited about working out.”
Berry explains, “If you say, we’re going to take the kids out for a walk this evening, most kids are going to say, ‘Wait, we have to leave the video games or television?’ Kids like to play games, they like to be engaged, so exercise needs to be something that is sports-oriented or game-oriented.”
Family fitness tips from Wake Forest health and fitness expert, Michael Berry
With the CDC’s physical activity goals in mind, Berry makes these suggestions for getting fit with the kids in the new year.
1. Make a fitness wish list with the kids. Write down every physical activity they’d like to do, and let them choose at least twice a month.
2. Aim for two or three activities a week, which will help reach a daily adult fitness goal of 30 minutes of moderate activity five times a week.
3. Replace pizza and a movie night with family fitness night at least once a month. Get the kids excited about it.
4. Play like a kid. A half-hour of tag or kickball is good exercise for you and your children.
5. Use your gaming system to your advantage. Pick a high-energy physical activity that you like (Just Dance for Wii, for instance), and make it a family competition. When the kids get bored, change the game.
6. Check out the fitness attractions your city offers. Visit a rock-climbing gym or a trampoline place, for example. Or, join a league – kickball, basketball, soccer. They all offer opportunities for you and your kids to have fun getting fit.
Physical activity guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The National CDC indicates there are easy and enjoyable ways to help children meet activity recommendations. They urge families to encourage children to participate in activities that are age-appropriate, enjoyable, and offer variety!
The CDC emphasizes the importance of physical activities that are varied. They suggest three areas of emphasis in selecting types of physical activities.
1. Aerobic activities
2. Muscle strengthening activities
3. Bone strengthening activities
More physical activity guidelines and suggestions are available on the CDC website. Specific family activities that cover the three, suggested types are included on the CDC website.
Keep it safe
Expert Michael Berry further indicates that no matter how families decide to get fit with kids, make sure to keep it safe. Safety tips include:
- Drink plenty of water while exercising.
- Follow the rules of the fitness attractions you visit.
- Keep children’s strength training to low or moderate resistance (like monkey bars).
- Remember that high resistance strength training can lead to injuries.
Make it last
Make this New Year’s resolutions count for the health and well-being of the entire family. Include the children in valuing and doing fitness activities. It brings genuine fun to exercise, and its benefits make important health differences that can last a lifetime.
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