- Exercise & Fitness
How To Make Sure Your Kids Are Healthy And Fit
Fitness for Kids Made Easy
Fitness for children seems to be an ongoing topic in our country these days and I think part of the problem is that life has changed so much. Kids today are not the same as kids back in let's say my time - the 50s and 60s. When I was growing up, we did not have school buses that took us from our door to school and no matter how far away we lived, we had to walk there. I know, I know....through the bitter cold and raging snowstorms, I walked 5 miles to school and back. Hardly - I grew up in Southern California!
We did walk to school though from grade school to high school - even when we added on extracurriculars like band and had huge loads of schoolbooks. Depending on where I lived at the time, it was a 30 to 60-minute walk one way to and from school. Also, the way that I grew up I spent a lot of time outdoors mostly to avoid unpleasant circumstances - I was always climbing onto roofs or climbing trees, riding my bike or skating, or just plain running!
We did not have TV for many of my childhood years and thus I developed many other skills - being a tomboy was one of them I suppose but reading and working at a very early age were several other skills which have served me well throughout my life.
Today, I think we all live in such a sedentary society that it is hard to remember exercise or fitness for ANY of us, let alone our children. There is so much going on, so many stressors at school and at home with people trying to do so much and in such a short amount of time - exercise and fitness could not be more vital than at this time!
I was blessed I think in many ways - in marrying a man who loved his children as much as he loved me. He was also a physically active sports enthusiast and together, we probably had enough energy to light up a town! Our first child was born with ADD and he was a handful. Our second son was born legally blind and that put a whole new light on life in general and how one goes through it. Our daughter was born just perfect - but bless her heart, she was born with the 2 brothers! She had no choice but to go along for the ride of a lifetime.
We discovered early on that treating ADD was a mixed bag. Minimal vision was also definitely not something we had bargained for. However, in order to keep Jonathan, our oldest, on an even keel and keep him from perpetual restrictions and detention, we discovered early on exercise was the ticket. I think had he not been athletic, we still would have pursued all that we did or gotten him involved in all that we did. It was just better for him!
At age 5, we enrolled him in a city program for track events and he proved that we had done the right thing - he had a ball but not only that, he discovered his inherent athletic ability and he never looked back after that. Over the years, he was involved in every sport imaginable and we just kept signing him up because it was so positive for him. He could finally do well at something and not get into trouble - as much! We also enrolled him in dance! A well-rounded athlete after all needs to learn to dance!
Not wanting to slight the other 2 kids, we enrolled Patrick in the same things - as much as we possibly could. It was not always easy and he did suffer more in terms of trying his very hardest and not succeeding AS MUCH - but the rewards were great and he never felt that he was a 'handicapped' kid. To the contrary, I believe to this day much of his attitude stems from the fact that we let him do everything he could do - including playing soccer, skiing, water skiing, horseback riding, riding a bike (no training wheels), and playing baseball. Unfortunately, the latter it turned out was a little TOO dangerous - listening for a baseball - priceless! I did make him give that up.
Katie as well followed along in their footsteps, though she was not as enthusiastic at it at times. She excelled at everything she did though and was a 'natural' - she just didn't care for it as much but over the years through high school, she was in baseball, soccer, track and dance.
How To Keep Your Kids Fit
I see advertisements all the time for kids and fitness - an hour a day and all that. I see statistics every day that break my heart - between 15 and 33% of all children and adolescents in the United States are overweight! This just can't be!
I think the solution is simple - it all starts in the home and with the family unit. In our case, we had to make a choice. We both worked full-time and we never had our kids in daycare. It was just a decision we made and with our children's special needs (that Kate was such a handful), we felt more comfortable taking care of them. However, in our 'spare' time, we involved them in wholesome activities that not only pushed their bodies (in a totally fun way) but pushed their minds and taught them to interact with others. It was a win-win situation.
We were not a 'sports crazed' family - we did not think our children had to be the best - only that they GAVE their best. We participated in everything that they did - but it wasn't just sports. They were also involved in music and language, scouts and other groups to round out their education and keep them busy. It also kept us busy - like 24/7! We just felt that devoting ourselves to our children and their formative years was that important. We also made sure that they had the other necessary components of a good life - a diet rich in nutritional, homemade food for the most part, laughter, love, pets, and security. We tried to make sure that we got them to participate but we also hope we taught them what it was to be part of something and learn to take care of yourself as well!
Apart from the sports and other activities that they were constantly involved in - a year round plethora of them - we also did many things just as a family or with extended family and friends. Things that were part of fitness - hiking, boating, going to the park for a picnic, camping, biking - we tried to always keep it exciting and keep it fun. When I look back on it now, I get tired thinking of it all but it was so wonderful! I just don't know how we kept up all the time but our kids were so much fun and the good memories that we have are simply treasures.
Great Fitness Short With Free Things
More Kid Fitness Ideas
- Roller skating
- Ice skating
- Marching band
- Hand corps
- Horseback riding
- Yard work! It's not a sport but it is good for anyone to do and is great exercise!
- Housework and house maintenance
Just about anything you can think of to involve your children in can be turned into fitness. The important thing is keeping them involved and encouraging them to participate no matter what their skill level. The example starts at home and if kids see their parents being excited and getting on board the fitness train, they will likewise assume this as part of their lifestyle and remember it into adulthood. They will have learned that to take care of yourself, keeping physically fit is part of the package!
Ideas for Kid Fitness
The funny thing is that kids don't even have to know that they are keeping fit - if they are involved in things and just being a kid - they are probably going to be fit!
- Soccer - One of the best overall sports for kids because of the running
- Swimming - One of the best overall sports for kids of all sizes and levels
- Martial Arts
- Simple exercises with your kids or exercise videos
- Team sports through the Y
- Team sports through the Park and Recreation Department
- Team sports through Boys or Girls Clubs
Summing It Up
In this economy, many people are struggling and many people have lost their jobs. Things are tight for a lot of families. There are things, however, that are surprisingly simple that don't cost a penny - like walking for miles together or riding bikes together - or hiking. The investment that you make as a family working together towards fitness will last a lifetime - and the benefits far outweigh the time spent doing things with and for your children.
Final thoughts from a seasoned parent:
- Give your children the gift of a good, healthy diet!
- Turn off the TV!! It should not be used as a substitute for activities or love!
- Quit buying junk foods or buy them sparingly! Do not let your child or children feel that eating makes up for love and attention.
- Get off the computer and get your kids off the computer! While there is a boatload of information and fun there, it is so much more important to spend that time forming who your child is and who he or she will become!
- Be fit yourself! Have a care for your own health and try and set the best possible example you can for your children.
- Enroll your child in activities as your time and finances allow - it will give them an enrichment unparalleled to anything else by exposing them to more things and keeping them fit and healthy.
- Just remember to enjoy the activities that your kids are in - participate - don't pressure them to be the best or fuss at them if they are the worst! All that matters is the exercise - literally!
- Take time for family fun and play games - outside, inside, dance, run, ENJOY your children because (take it from me) it goes by in a blink! Give them a running chance at life by caring for them and keeping them safe AND healthy.
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