There is no big secret on how to teach your children healthy exercise habits. You only have to get out of the way of their natural inclination to burn copious amounts of energy playing.
There are two main classes of impediments to your children being able to play as children were designed to:
1) Electronic games, television, and computers and,
2) Your reluctance to allow them to do so.
Let’s examine both of these obstacles to your children’s health and well being.
Television And Computer Hazards
There are 41 studies showing a relationship between television viewing and an unhealthy body mass index listed on the Center of Weight and Health website from the college of Natural Resources School of Public Health at the University of California, Berkeley.
These studies are a real eye opener!
Joey Shulman, DC, RNCP points out in an article on children’s television viewing habits that the Department Of Education found children in the U.S. watch television from three to five hours per day. That’s valuable time they could be outside playing.
But television is so educational for the children, right?
Healy reports that children do not learn from Sesame Street.
She elaborates on the reasons why learning does not occur in the chapter entitled, “Sesame Street and the Death of Reading” found in her book, Endangered Minds. It may do you well to get her book and acquire a full understanding of the dynamics of television viewing and its effects on your child.
Television Is Detrimental To Health
Encouraging children to watch television, use the computer, or play video games instead of participating in more wholesome and beneficial activities is your choice as an adult. You may be unknowingly encouraging them to be sedentary by supplying these electronic appliances and games instead of encouraging your children to use their imagination while playing at physically demanding activities.
In adults, it was found that the more time wasted watching television, videos, or using a computer led to an increased incidence of them suffering from metabolic syndrome.
Metabolic syndrome is characterized by insulin resistance, hypertension (high blood pressure), abnormal blood clotting, high triglycerides, and elevated LDL levels (bad cholesterol) accompanied by low HDL levels (good cholesterol).
Your television and computer really are killing you!
The researchers surmised that if the adults in this study had turned off the TV or computer, and spent that time doing physical activities, the prevalence of metabolic syndrome would decrease.
Health hindering situations such as these plague children who lead sedentary lifestyles.
For example, one study found that the rapid growth found in early childhood is slowed if physical activity is restricted.
Other researchers found that preschool girls who watched large amounts of television had lower bone density.
That’s in preschool girls!
We’re not talking about post-menopausal women having their bones soften. This occurs in young girls.
What will happen to these girls when they get older?
The Centers for Disease Control outlined the benefits of regular physical activity for children.
Those benefits include:
1) Builds healthy bones, muscles, and joints.
2) Improves strength and physical endurance.
3) Helps control weight, builds lean muscle mass, and reduces body fat.
4) Improves cholesterol levels.
5) Improves blood pressure levels.
6) Reduces anxiety and stress.
7) Increases energy levels.
8) Promotes overall health.
If there are so many detrimental aspects to television viewing, especially for children, are you asking yourself why your kids are still allowed, and maybe even encouraged, to watch TV or play video games?
Encourage Outdoor Playing
There is only so much free time in a day for children to play outside. It is imperative they use that limited time for constructive activity.
In other words, it may not be what the children are doing (watching television or playing games on the computer) but rather, what they are not doing. There is not enough time in a day to watch TV for hours then play outside.
It must be one or the other.
Nearly half the adolescents aged 12 to 21 years old do not have vigorous exercise on a regular basis.
In one study vigorous exercise was defined as performing twenty minutes of exercise three times a week. It’s really sad when young people aren’t getting even this small amount of activity.
Make Exercise A Fun Family Activity
The most successful way to make healthful changes in your family’s activity levels is to make it fun.
Going to the gym is not fun. Kids won’t do it. Heck, most adults won’t do it for the long term. Just witness the huge rise in enrollment at gyms after the New Year and the lack of bodies in those gyms during March.
So what you should do is establish “life long” activities with your family.
Children can play soccer, softball, baseball, football, track, etc. but parents need a sport the family can do together at any age.
All members of the family can enjoy lifetime physical activities such as dancing, walking, hiking, swimming, or bicycling. Remember, the idea is fun, not exercise. The exercise comes along with the fun.
After everyone becomes a little more capable of participating in physical endeavors you can try more vigorous activities such as skiing, skating, jogging, strength training, or brisk hiking in rough country.
If the kids want to start an energetic sport Mom and Dad might not be able to physically perform let them do it. Mom and Dad can cheer from the sidelines.
Kids are taking the ball and running with it (figuratively as well as literally). Everyone can join in a less strenuous sport afterward allowing the family to bond and enjoy each other’s company.
When you join your children on their journey to a healthier lifestyle the entire family benefits.
It truly is not difficult to teach your children healthy exercise habits.