To register for the 6th Annual Family Health and Fitness Day, click here!
As a physical therapist, and more importantly, a mom, one of my highest priority items for my children and the children I treat is living a healthy and active life style. This lifestyle needs to be implemented very young and needs to be consistent throughout the childhood and adolescent years. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), in the past 30 years childhood obesity has tripled, resulting in nearly a third of American children classified as overweight and/or obese. Also, according to the CDC, overweight children are much more likely than healthy children to become overweight adults. Additionally, children who are obese have a much higher risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, social and psychological problems, poor self-esteem and are at greater risk for bone and joint problems.
This is an epidemic in our country that needs to be addressed, which is why we support the Family Health and Fitness Day. What better way to spend time with your children then teaching them to lead healthy and active lifestyles? In my family, we place a high priority in being active. Our children come to the gym with us to watch us exercise, we go on family bike rides, family hikes, compete in fun events like the Spartan race (yes, the kids participate too), and play with our kids in the pool or at the park. Our children spend time on sports teams and activities like CrossFit kids, but you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars every year to live an active life.
One of the best ways to get your kids moving is to limit the amount of screen time. Since my children started school, we have a rule that electronics (unless needed for schoolwork) are not used from Monday morning until Friday after homework has been completed. During the weekends we try to plan enough fun activities that playing video games watching television is limited to less than 2 hours each day. Our children, on average, are only in front of a screen for 4 hours per week. According to research conducted by the University of Michigan, children between ages 2-5 are watching TV an average of 32 hours per week and children ages 6-9 are watching 28 hours of TV per week. Those are scary statistics! Just cutting your children’s tube time in half would double their activity level. Understandably, your child will not be in another room performing push-ups and squats just because they are not in front of the television. However, when kids are playing, they are moving! They do not need to “work out” to be active; they just need to be kids. I figure, even if my child comes to find me 10 times a day to say they are bored, it adds more steps to their day, thereby increasing their daily activity.
Limiting television and video games are not the only answer to teaching your family how to have a healthy and active lifestyle, but it is definitely a great start. Another great idea is being a good role model for your child. Many parents feel so guilty about taking time away from their family by going to the gym, but I promise, it will not only decrease your stress, but teach your kids life-long healthy habits. I clearly remember my mom dropping me off at an extra-curricular activity to go work out at the gym. However, I cannot recall one memory where my mom was sitting and watching me at my practice. I am sure she did both, but funny the things I recall. And now as an adult I am so blessed that my parents were active while I was growing up because they are healthy enough to keep up with my two active kids. I hope as adults, my children remember the importance we placed on living healthy lifestyles.
If you feel like you do not have any ideas where to look to begin an active lifestyle, please search your community events. There are many resources for children and adults to start them on the path of a healthy lifestyle. Remember to go to your doctor for a physical before beginning any intense exercise program. If you or your child is having pain that is limiting you from participating in physical activities, please call AZOPT for an evaluation to assist you with beginning your path towards a healthy lifestyle.