Childhood obesity has become an epidemic. It is almost impossible to shop at the grocery store, to take a walk in the park, or even to watch a youth soccer game without seeing a chronically obese child.
Research shows that obesity deals a heavy blow to children, especially when they develop the condition at a young age. Not only do they receive social stigmatization and bullying from peers, but they are also much more susceptible to a wide range of chronic diseases such as Diabetes, heart disease, orthopedic problems, sleep apnea, and low self-esteem. It doesn’t end there- obese children also have a significantly increased risk of developing deadly conditions such as cancer and strokes when they are adults.
However, if your children are overweight or obese, don’t despair- there are steps that can be taken to help manage their weight and enforce healthy living habits that will stay with them for years to come.
The following activities are fun ways to keep your child active; after all, the best way to instill an exercise habit is to make sure that the fitness routine stays enjoyable and exciting.
Many cities and towns sponsor activities such as soccer, basketball, hockey, and the like. It is a great idea to get your children involved in sports from a young age, and many communities offer youth leagues that start at age six and continue on into adulthood- needless to say, a fantastic way to keep your child involved in the sport for years on end. Sports are an especially effective way to keep your child exercising because of the social aspects of the teams: once they make friends, they will have extra incentive to stay in the sport, and might even get involved in others.
Dance, Dance Revolution
As much as we all know that children these days spend too much time in front of video games, there are some that actually promote physical fitness. Dance, Dance Revolution is a great example and a great place to start, but if your child isn’t fleet of foot there are still plenty of other titles to try such as Wii Boxing, Sportwall, and the like.
Most martial arts classes for children focus on fitness and on concentration rather than on fighting techniques; martial arts classes are also great for raising a child’s self-esteem and helping them stand up to bullies at school. Many schools, such as Tae Kwon Do and Judo, also emphasize competitions, which enforce preparation, fitness, and concentration in your child, as well as giving them a healthy sense of competition.
When you have some spare time on the weekends, take your children out to a new park or hike a mountain with them; if you live in the city or it’s a hassle to get to outdoor locations, go bowling or roller skating. Make activity an integral part of the day when you do have time to spend with them- if the kids see mom and dad involved in and enjoying exercise, chances are they will keep fitness a priority as they grow up.
It can be hard to make changes in children’s routines or to convince them to try new things. If all else fails and your children refuse to play sports, fitness video games, or have adventure time, a new set of rules just might fit the bill: for every hour they play outside, they can watch one hour of television or play one hour of video games. This rule can, of course, be altered, but a one to one ratio will seem the most fair to the child and still allows them to enjoy their sedentary moments.
Although it can be tough to get your children into a new fitness routine, with the use of the above techniques there is no doubt that with time your child will learn to love exercise and activity.