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Improve the Physical Fitness of Your Children

Updated on October 31, 2007

Improve the Physical Fitness of Your Children

Children are naturally active. Who has not sometimes secretly wished that their toddler would get a bit less exercise? Why are we facing such a spate of overweight kids? Despite all that energy bubbling up inside of young children, what goes wrong? What is the secret to physical fitness for children?

Good News

The good news is keeping kids fit is easier than you might think. Even better is the news that if you start to instill good habits in your kids immediately, they will stick with them into adulthood, leading to a much lower chance of your child becoming overweight as an adult or developing any of the plethora of health problems that go along with obesity.

Bad News

So what is the bad news? Parents are often (albeit unintentionally) responsible for their children's lethargy and the resulting weight gain. Think back to the last time you urged your child to sit still or maybe even put them on drugs to control hyperactivity, ADD, or ADHD. Sure, the result was a more manageable child, but it was also a child whose desire to run and play was decreased, however slightly. You will have also sent the message to the child that it is okay to think of physical activity as Something Bad.

Educational?

What about those educational videos and television shows you encouraged them to watch? Yes, an hour or two without the kids underfoot was a precious chance to get things done - but, again, you were encouraging inactive entertainment rather than active entertainment.

Even with younger children, it is a mistake to assume that either an adult or older sibling has to play with them, or else they have to watch television. This is one of the biggest problems facing Western Society; we are raised to believe that we must be entertained, rather than entertaining ourselves.

Let Kids be Kids

If you have things you must get done, it will not kill a child to play on their own from time to time, especially if you carefully balance time spent getting things done with time spent with your kids. If you are a working parent, remember that the eight hours a day (or more) you give to your employer already weighs against you. Just because kids can play alone doesn't mean they always should and an hour or two in the park or the backyard makes for happy memories as well as healthy children. However, never make a video, DVD or television show, no matter how "educational", a substitute for the time spent with you. If you absolutely cannot spend time with your child at that moment, let them play on their own rather than plopping them down in front of a television.

Once you can train yourself to realize that your child's love of activity and movement is actually a good and healthy thing, you are much closer to having children who will love the outdoors, love playing and staying fit and above all who are naturally healthy. As an added bonus, you will have children who know how to entertain themselves without resorting to television or videogames.

Yes, there is a time for children to be still, to listen and to pay attention. Children should be taught that when you tell them to sit still and do it, they have to do it. But once their task is done, whether it be schoolwork or chores or anything else, let them run and play. Let them go a little wild. Let them be kids.

In Closing

These exercise periods can also provide great family quality time, that parents and even grandparents can join in with. Appropriate activities are frequently either cheap, or entirely free, so there is no excuse for skipping them no matter how limited your financial means. Increasingly, the seniors in your family - especially those belonging to the baby boomer generation - need more exercise too, so everyone benefits.

Physical fitness for kids is not something you have to struggle to achieve; it is something that will develop naturally - if you let it, that is.

Wonderful photograph of grandmother and grandson playing together. Photo kindly supplied by Sam LeVan - http://www.sxc.hu/profile/samlevan
Wonderful photograph of grandmother and grandson playing together. Photo kindly supplied by Sam LeVan - http://www.sxc.hu/profile/samlevan

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Video Above: Fourth and fifth graders at Hampton Meadows School in Barrington Rhode Island (RI) USA celebrate their grandparents and other older friends and relatives.

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    • Julie-Ann Amos profile image

      Julie-Ann Amos 

      10 years ago from Gloucestershire, UK

      Nice hub, have linked to it from my own hub on children and exercise/fitness

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