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Children, Exercise And Fitness

Updated on September 18, 2008

Exercise And Children Do Mix...

You may hear a lot about children getting enough physical activity, but what about exercise specifically? Exercise is something that children can do, if they do it correctly. Most younger children will not need to do any type of actual, structured exercise as running around with a game of tag is usually the type of fitness they need. On the other hand, with older children exercise can help them get fit through a variety of exercise plans and the end result will be a healthier body that goes with them throughout their life.

Did you know that 80 percent of children that are overweight will continue to be overweight into their adult years? Many parents believe that their child will drop the pounds after a certain period of time or that puberty will kick in and the child will lose weight. Perhaps this used to be the case, but with today's child, inactivity and a poor diet do not allow for it to happen nearly as much as it should. Hence, the reason for exercising!

Improving Children's Health

All parents want their children to do well throughout their lives and they want them to be healthy. The problem is that the process of getting them fit can be a difficult one. After all, most children are faced with countless attention grabbing non moving activities. For example, fun television programming stops them from playing (even in children as young as toddlers!) Video games and the internet are additional draws on their time, making them inactive and therefore not allowing them to be fit. Yet, you can help your child.

The best way to help them is through providing them with the proper means to lose weight. They need to maintain a healthy weight throughout their lifetime and that starts right now. The child's food is an important concern. While they do not need to be on a diet, they should be monitored for nutritious foods and the right caloric intake. That is not an easy job by any means, but saving your child's life is worth it!

The other aspect that must be taken into consideration is exercise. Children need at least one full hour of exercise each day, split into sections. Exercise for children includes activities like running, swimming, riding a bike or playing tag. Sports are a good solution for days that they practice and play.

Simply ask yourself some important questions.

  • How much time does your child spend playing, running, jumping, walking, swimming, etc (for at least 30 to 60 minutes per day)?

  • How much time does your child spend watching television, playing on the internet, talking on the cell phone or playing video games?

You likely can see that there are more hours spent doing the second activity than the first. If this is the case, incorporating a healthy chid exercise regimen into your child's life is a must. The process can be fun and enjoyable. You can even do it with them. If you do, you will be encouraging them to be healthy in one of the most powerful ways!

The Risks Faced By Inactive Children

There are risks that go along with being inactive. Parents and children alike face the same health risks. The only difference is that with children, the early onset of these conditions can cause them to become ill much sooner in life. Conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and sleep apnea are all very real situations that children very young can face. These problems are often rectified through improving the child's diet and physical activity level, but it is never easy to do. What's more, the risks of being obese for a child can lead to problems with their self esteem. Many children face deep depression and contemplate suicide because of it. As you can see, the risks involved with your child's health are very real and very frightening.

Exercising With Children

It is heavily advised that the first thing that you do with your child when considering a children exercise regimens is to take them to see their doctor first. You want the doctor to rule out any type of injury risk, health concern or other worry that they may have. This helps to make sure that your child is not going to face a problem when they begin to exercise. Your doctor is also an important person for asking questions to about the exercise that they recommend for your child. There may be some situations where your doctor advises you against exercise for children. The reason for this is quite simply because some other form of control may be better for them. Nevertheless, most doctors are happy to recommend an exercise regimen for your child.

Here's an ideal way to get the exercise that they need.

Start off with a warm up period of time. Anyone that is exercising needs a few minutes to work on improving the current condition of their body in such a way as to prevent injury. Loosening muscles and stretching will help you to avoid any possibility of injury during exercise. Children are especially encouraged to warm up so that they can avoid injury during exercise workouts. Warm up activities should last about five minutes and they should be light activity things. Stretching is a good place to start. Then, work into walking and calisthenics like bending and jumping jacks. All of these warm up the body and get it ready for what's coming.

Next comes the exercising itself. Your goal is to have your child exercise at 60 minutes per day, broken into pieces. So, they may spend 30 minutes in the morning running and another two sets of 15 minutes exercising with you after school, for example. For a child that has been inactive, you will want to start with goals that are smaller, perhaps only 30 minutes per day for several days, then working to a higher level as they are more capable of doing.

Exercises that are good choices for exercise for children include walking, running, bike riding, rollerblading, swimming, jumping rope, and jogging. But, you can also include fun sports that they enjoy so long as you keep the intensity level up high enough that the child is getting a physical workout. Good sports for this including soccer, basketball, volleyball and hockey.

Also, look for ways to increase the child's physical activity during their day without having a specific exercise period. For example, instead of taking the elevator up, encourage them to take a flight of stairs. Give them safe yet physical chores to do such as cleaning, vacuuming or even cutting the grass if they are old enough. Give them responsibility too. Playing a game of fetch with the dog or walking the dog can give them additional responsibility but also gives them time to be fit. Most importantly, the entire family unit should get involved. This provides the most likely benefit to your child because they are seeing that you really do practice what you preach!

Once the activity is completed for the desired amount of time, the next step is for the child to cool down. Cooling down helps to provide the body with a way of coming down slowly from the exercise. It helps to prevent injuries that occur after a workout. All of the same activities as warming up can be used to cool down like walking and stretching.

Strength Training For Children

Strength training is something that many people are becoming involved with because building tone muscles can help the body to burn through stored fat faster. Yet, it is incredibly important that you consider if this is okay for your child to partake in. Weight lifting, power lifting and body building is not acceptable for any child until they have reached their full developmental level physically. This usually does not happen until they are 15 to 17 years of age.

If you would like to include this type of activity into your child's exercise regimen, you can do so as long as the goal is not to build large muscles. Instead, the goal should be to do light weight training to develop muscles slightly, not for bulking them up reasons! Also, it is highly recommended that you invest in a professional that does physical training at this level first. You want to be sure that your child is not injured in any way from the activities that he is doing. Hiring a professional to help with strength training is an investment in their safety as well as their health.

Good activities for toning muscles in any child include activities like sit ups, crunches, knee bens, push ups and pull ups. All of these activities can be done during or after the cool down of their exercise program. Each provides a very good amount of exercise for your child in the development of their muscle groups without overworking or overbuilding those groups.

Summary

Fitness can be something that your child enjoys. When the family does it as a whole, the child is more likely to actually enjoy the experience and it is more likely that they will continue to exercise their entire life. Most importantly, it will help them to build a healthy life both emotionally and physically that they will take with them for years to come. Consider how well your child exercises and make changes to your lifestyle to incorporate the wellness that every child needs to avoid the risks on their lives.

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    • profile image

      Royal Jelly 

      7 years ago

      Nice hub very informative and helpful. Getting kids involved in sports provides a lot of benefits, keeps them healthy, teaches them discipline and builds their character.

    • H P Roychoudhury profile image

      H P Roychoudhury 

      9 years ago from Guwahati, India

      Getting children active in sports will reduce childhood obesity to some extent to-day in this world.

    • Uninvited Writer profile image

      Susan Keeping 

      10 years ago from Kitchener, Ontario

      I got so much exercise as a kid, I seemed to be running around all the time playing soccer and rounders. Well done.

    • ProCW profile image

      ProCW 

      10 years ago from South Carolina

      :) Nicely done! :) Thumbs up from me!

      ProCW

    • Ryan Hupfer profile image

      Ryan Hupfer 

      10 years ago from San Francisco, CA

      I think that every parent should read this Hub...this is becoming a HUG problem...especially in the US. Also, great use of the other HubMob image - it looks awesome!

    • missymoo profile image

      missymoo 

      10 years ago from Kent, UK

      Another great hub. Well done you!

    • gwendymom profile image

      gwendymom 

      10 years ago from Oklahoma

      This is a great hub about getting children active and healthy. I have been lucky to have children that participate in all sorts of sports, but I know that childhood obesity has become a real problem in the world today. It's so easy for kids to just lounge in front of the tv, play videos games and play on the computer, kinda like I do. Maybe by me setting a bad example for my kids they decided they didn't want any part of that, HAHA!

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