Exercise Guidelines for Children and Adolescent
Many of us feel guilty for not doing more about the way kids live today. More young people become overweight and out-of-shape adults before they know it and feel helpless about it. Some children consume more than 50 hours a week on television and video games, keeping them away from physically active. Kids also have easier access to high-calorie fast foods and junk food that are rich in harmful fat and cholesterol. The underlying cause of these activities is the lifestyle habits these children adopted, parallel to those of their parents. Emphasis then should not be focused on the weight or appearance, but rather on changing the lifestyle habits that impact on the weight and appearance. In another words, the proper perspective is not to produce a slim child, but to foster healthy lifestyle habits that produce fitness and health for a lifetime. The discussion follows will focus on ways to make physical activity a natural part of a child (and his family’s) life to achieve effective lifestyle change.
Undoubtedly, being Outdoors is the basic to increasing childhood physical activity. Maximize the time your child spends outside is clearly the most important thing a parent can do to naturally motivate the kids to exercise. Children are inherently active and the more time they spend outdoors, the more active they will be. This is definitely a better way to encourage the young children to exercise than a formal exercise classes. And it’s free. Take a walk, climb a tree, roller-skating, fly a kite, throw a Frisbee, go bike cycling, play with the sand, walk the dog and so on.
Being active yourself is the best way to teach your child to be physically active. Parents need to think of themselves as part of the solution, not the problem to active lifestyle change. If you want to be an influence on the health and fitness of those you love, take care of yourself. Personal example is the most powerful and compelling influence to your family. “Do what I do” will go farther than “Do what I say”.
Look for ways that you and your children can be physically active on a daily basis such as performing household chores together, playing a ball game or bicycling. Such activities should be enjoyable and fun. The intensity or duration of this activity is less important than the requirement of increasing body metabolism and establishing a habit of daily activity.
Depending on how active the child is, here are some guidelines to plan activities.
For inactive child, increase the activities by referring to the base of the activity pyramid:
Take the stairs together instead of elevator
- Working together in the garden, wash the car, or help out in any other house chores
- Park your car far away and walk to your destination together
- Go shopping together
- Play outside
- Walk the dog, bath the dog
Moderately Active Child
If your child is somewhat active, you can help increase the activities by referring to the middle of the pyramid:
- Find activities he likes such as soccer, martial arts, hiking, basketball etc.
- Schedule activities into his day and plan some playmates for him
- Set realistic goals he can stick with
If your child is active at least four days a week, use the whole pyramid to:
- Help him change his routine to avoid boredom
- Explore new activities
Fitness Goal for adolescent children
For adolescent children, parent should help them to identify and focus on lifetime fitness goal. Help your child to see the importance of exercise and sports. Make certain that he understands fitness is a family priority. Set a fitness goal and map out a plan for the child to work out regularly. The American College of Sports Medicine has counselled that:
- Fitness is improved if a person exercise more than 3 times a week
- Fitness is maintained with routine of exercise 3 days a week.
- Fitness is lost when a person gets exercise less than 3 days a week.
Plan now or there will not be a start
The importance of physical activity in the lifestyle of kids cannot be overemphasized. Active lifestyles are often associated with positive self-image, self-confidence, self-control and reduce the risk of depression. But it won’t come about unless you plan for it. So, take out a piece of paper or a planning calendar and start planning! Remember, fitness and health, not weight loss, is the goal. Healthy lifestyle for kids today is a long term investment to lifetime fitness and health.
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