Keeping Kids Fit
With soaring obesity rates, and the health risks associated with kids being overweight, more and more parents are asking how to help their kids get (or stay) fit. Here are some easy tips.
- Set a good example. Exercise for at least a half hour three times weekly. Eat right. See your doctor annually for well visits and promptly for examinations when you think you may be unwell.
- Ensure that your kids eat a healthy diet. Minimize fast foods and foods that are high in fat, sugar, caffeine, or salt. Offer healthy substitutes for traditional kid favorites. For example, cut a cantaloupe into narrow wedges, remove the rind and seeds, wrap the wedges individually in wax paper, place the wrapped wedges in a freezer bag, and freeze the wedges. Then, when the kids want a popsicle, give them a frozen cantaloupe wedge . . . sweet, frozen, delicious, and healthy!
- Take your kids to a good pediatrician for regularly scheduled well visits. When your kids may be ill and needing medical attention, seek medical intervention promptly. Follow the guidance given by medical professionals. For example, if vitamin and mineral supplements are recommended, find high quality supplements to help your kids grow up healthy and strong.
- Set aside a specified time each day for your kids to put down the electronic games, turn off the TV and computer, and play outside. Hide and seek, leap frog, Simon says, Red Rover, kickball, tag, jumping rope, and a million other generations-old childhood games involve enjoying activity and fresh air. If electronic games are a must in your household, a Wii is an electronic game that encourages physical activity.
- Enroll your kids in youth sports and activities such as YMCA/YWCA, municipal, or school-based programs. Also, your kids may be interested in private dance classes, golf lessons, baton lessons, etc.
- Also set aside a specified time each day for family activities. Quality family activities include preparing and sharing healthy meals as a familly, taking golf lessons together, or engaging in any other healthy behaviors together.
- Let your kids have days in which they get to select the shared activity of the day. If Johnny gets to select an activity on Mondays and Wednesdays, Janie gets to make her selection on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and you (as parents) make your selections on Fridays through Sundays, then everybody will look forward to the days that they get to decide what the family does for a shared activity.
- Get your nanny involved. Have her promote healthy, active behavior in your absence. Tell her what fun, healthy behaviors your kids are used to (i.e., the kinds of foods and physical recreation that are a part of their routine). Also allow her to be creative: she may have fun, healthy ideas that are new to you and your family!
- Go on nature hikes. Walk the family dog daily. Explore a local park or nature preserve. If you leave near mountains, go snow skiing. If you live near the ocean, go surfing. If you live near a lake, go water skiing. If you live near a lot of caves, take guided tours of your local caves.
- Bicycle to points of interest that are near your home. Try bicycles built for two (if you have an even number of family members). Or skate. Or skate board. Or maybe learn to use a unicycle, just for the fun of it.
- Celebrate the kids’ birthdays at water parks, skating rinks, or other areas that promote fun physical activity. Many venues are happy to host and organize kids’ birthday parties and can offer a wide array of fun, healthy, active things to do at parties.
- Take vacations that are physical. For example, go to Disney World, the Black Hills of South Dakota, Yellowstone National Park, the Grand Canyon, or the San Diego Zoo. A lot of walking is involved at these destinations.
- Reward good behaviors with “gift certificates” that are redeemable for a fun physical activity. For example, if one of your kids gets an “A” on a major test in school, give him/her a gift certificate that s/he can redeem for a fun physical activity of his/her choosing (i.e., a one-on-one, parent-child trip to a local water park . . . without “having” to share the time with siblings).
By following these tips, you can feel assured that you are doing your part to ensure that your kids are growing up fit.