This is default featured slide 1 title
This is default featured slide 2 title
This is default featured slide 3 title
This is default featured slide 4 title
This is default featured slide 5 title
 

Monthly Archives: November 2016

11 Ways to Encourage Your Child to Be Physically Active

Did You Know?

  • Only 1 in 3 children are physically active every day.
  • Less than 50% of the time spent in sports practice, games, and physical education class involves moving enough to be considered physical activity.
  • Children and teens spend more than 7 hours per day on average using TVs, computers, phones, and other electronic devices for entertainment.
  • About 1 out of 3 children is either overweight or obese in the United States.
  • Overweight teens have a 70% chance of becoming overweight or obese adults.

Getting Started

Parents can play a key role in helping their child become more physically active.

Here are 11 ways to get started:

  1. Talk with your child’s doctor. Your child’s doctor can help your child understand why physical activity is important. Your child’s doctor can also suggest a sport or activity that is best for your child.
  2. Find a fun activity. Help your child find a sport that she enjoys. The more she enjoys the activity, the more likely she will continue it. Get the entire family involved. It is a great way to spend time together.
  3. Choose an activity that is developmentally appropriate. For example, a 7- or 8-year-old child is not ready for weight lifting or a 3-mile run, but soccer, bicycle riding, and swimming are all appro­priate activities.
  4. Plan ahead. Make sure your child has a convenient time and place to exercise.
  5. Provide a safe environment. Make sure your child’s equipment and chosen site for the sport or activity are safe. Make sure your child’s clothing is comfortable and appropriate.
  6. Provide active toys. Young children especially need easy access to balls, jump ropes, and other active toys.
  7. Be a role model. Children who regularly see their parents enjoying sports and physical activity are more likely to do so themselves.
  8. Play with your child. Help her learn a new sport.
  9. Turn off the TV. Limit TV watching and computer use. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than 1 to 2 hours of total screen time, including TV, videos, computers, and video games, each day. Use the free time for more physical activities.
  10. Make time for exercise. Some children are so overscheduled with homework, music lessons, and other planned activities that they do not have time for exercise.
  11. Do not overdo it. When your child is ready to start, remember to tell her to listen to her body. Exercise and physical activity should not hurt. If this occurs, your child should slow down or try a less vigorous activity. As with any activity, it is important not to overdo it. If your child’sweight drops below an average, acceptable level or if exercise starts to interfere with school or other activities, talk with your child’s doctor.

Remember

Exercise along with a balanced diet provides the foundation for a healthy, active life. This is even more important for children who are obese. One of the most important things parents can do is encourage healthy habits in their children early on in life. It is not too late to start. Ask your child’s doctor about tools for healthy living today.

Making Fitness a Way of Life

 Some school-aged children can’t wait to get home from school, stake out a place on the couch, and spend the rest of the afternoon and evening watching TV. Physical activity is just not on their radar screens, at least not by choice.

Stopping the Slippery Slope of Childhood Obesity:

Not surprisingly, children who fit this profile may be on a slippery slope to a life ofobesity. There are a lot of them. Several years ago, when a group of children 6 to 12 years old participated in programs of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness, only 50% of girls and 64% of boys could walk or run a mile in less than 10 minutes. If that same study were conducted today, when the obesity epidemic seems to be gaining momentum, those statistics might be even more troubling.

Making Exercise Into a Lifelong Habit:

During your child’s school-age years, your goal should be not only to get your child moving, but to turn exercise into a lifelong habit. There are plenty of opportunities for your child to keep active.

Getting Involved in Organized Sports:

In most communities, children in this age group can choose to get involved in a number of organized sports, including:

  • Little League
  • Youth soccer
  • A martial arts class
  • Community basketball
  • Hockey
  • Football leagues

Team sports are fun and the perfect fit for many children, and they can help them manage their weight.

But, Sports Aren’t For Everyone…

However, group activities like these aren’t for everyone. Some obese children feel self-conscious about participating in team sports and are much more comfortable getting their exercise in unstructured settings. For them, free play on the playground,ice skating, in-line skating, bowling, or even running through sprinklers is good exercise.

Let your child choose something that he finds enjoyable, and once he discovers it, encourage him to make it a regular part of life. At the same time, limit TV watching or time spent on the computer or playing video games to no more than 1 to 2 hours a day. Studies have shown that the more time children devote to watching TV, the more likely they are to consume foods like pizza, salty snacks, and soda that contribute to weight gain.

If Your Child Insists He Doesn’t Want to Do Any Physical Activity:

Explain that it’s important and might even be fun to find a new activity. Try to find activities that fit the family’s budget and time commitments and have him choose among several alternatives.

How to Involve Friends & Family in Fitness Activities:

Some children might prefer to go with a friend or parent. Be creative and emphasize participation, not competition. To help your school-aged youngster become physically active, recruit the entire family to participate. Let your overweight child know that all of you, parents and siblings alike, are in his corner, and even if he has rarely exercised before, he can start now with the entire family’s support.

  • Go for family bike rides (with everyone wearing a helmet)
  • Swim together at the Y
  • Take brisk walks
  • Learn to cross-country ski
  • Sign up for golf lessons
  • Do activities of daily living together, such as household chores
  • Spend a Saturday afternoon cleaning the house or raking leaves

No matter what you choose, regular activity not only burns calories, but also strengthens your child’s cardiovascular system, builds strong bones and muscles, and increases flexibility. It can also diffuse stress, help him learn teamwork and sportsmanship, boost his self-esteem, and improve his overall sense of well-being.

Body Composition and Flexibility

 These 2 areas help remind us that children are different from adults and each other. It may seem ridiculous to speak about body composition and flexibility in kids because we all know they are mostly made of Play-Doh. However, it is important to discuss the general changes in body tissues that occur during growth and the various effects these changes have on exercise and sports participation.

Girls and boys can play together until about the third grade. After this point, it is a good idea to start the transition of separating boys and girls in contact-type sports. This gives plenty of time for puberty to start and not have a 4’2″, 70-pound boy playing against a 5’9″, 130-pound girl. Remember, the average ages that puberty begins is much different for girls and boys. Even from early childhood, girls in general have more body fat than boys. That is just the way the cards are dealt. Differences in body fat stay throughout childhood and then increase in girls once they hit puberty. Boys have a more dramatic change in body composition because new levels of testosterone from puberty start to add muscle mass. Kids who are already overweight tend to remain overweight into adolescence and adulthood.

The changes in body composition are important because they may have an effect on sports participation and performance, especially in sports in which center of gravity and weight are important like gymnastics, diving, figure skating, and wrestling. Puberty is a time of multiple adjustments that can have an effect on your child’s participation in sports. Understanding the reality of the physical and chemical changes of puberty can enable you to support your active child during and through that period of development.

Children are also more flexible than adults. Who do you think was the model for Gumby? It had to be a child. But as usual, many good things must come to an end or just slow down. During the rapid growth of puberty, kids often become temporarily less flexible than they were prior to puberty. Let me paint a visual for you here.

Some children have a slow growth spurt, while others grow so fast they need a speeding ticket. Essentially, their bones are growing more quickly than their muscles and tendons can stretch to keep up. Most boys get more muscles and lose some body fat, but often lose flexibility.

Girls can also become tighter during the rapid growth of puberty if they cannot stretch to keep up with their growth. However, the increase in estrogen usually allows girls to maintain or improve their flexibility once they slow down their speed of growth. Having good flexibility may help some athletes self-select into certain sports such as swimming, diving, gymnastics, tennis, figure skating, wrestling, or martial arts. Understanding these changes in body composition and flexibility can prepare you for their potential effect as you watch your child exercise, train, or compete while going through puberty.

Aerobic Training

 Aerobic training strengthens the heart and lungs and improves muscle function. One goal of aerobic training is to enhance sports performance and to improve training response. The following is information from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) about aerobic training exercises.

What are aerobic training exercises?

Aerobic training exercises are any activities that raise heart rate and make breathing somewhat harder. The activity you are doing must be constant and continuous. Examples of aerobic activities are

  • Walking or hiking
  • Jogging or running
  • Biking
  • Swimming
  • Rowing
  • In-line skating
  • Cross-country skiing
  • Exercising on a stair-climber or elliptical machine

Other activities, when done in a constant and continuous way, can be aerobic, such as tennis, racquetball, squash, and the martial arts. Weight training, however, is not aerobic because it is done in short bursts of a few minutes at a time.

How does aerobic training improve endurance?

Aerobic training increases the rate at which oxygen inhaled is passed on from the lungs and heart to the bloodstream to be used by the muscles. Aerobically fit athletes can exercise longer and harder before feeling tired. During exercise they have a slower heart rate, slower breathing rate, less muscle fatigue, and more energy. After exercise, recovery happens more quickly. Aerobic fitness can be measured in a laboratory setting while exercising on a treadmill or bicycle. This is called maximal oxygen uptake or VO2 max.

How often and how long should athletes train?

To achieve a training response, athletes should exercise 3 to 5 times per week for at least 20 to 60 minutes. Fitness level can be improved with as little as 10 minutes of exercise if done 2 to 3 times per day. If the goal is also to lose body fat, athletes should exercise for at least 30 to 60 minutes. Athletes who are not fit will need to start with lesser amounts of exercise. They can slowly add more time as their endurance improves. Increasing the level of exercise at about 10% per week is a good goal to prevent overuse injury.

Cross-training can help reduce the risk of overuse injuries. This is done by alternating different kinds of activities. To avoid putting too much stress on the body and help prevent injuries, it is wise to alternate high-impact activities, like running, with low-impact exercises, like walking, cycling, and swimming.

How hard should athletes train?

Training at low to moderate intensity levels is enough to improve endurance. In general, this level of intensity is more enjoyable and less likely to lead to injuries than high-intensity training.

However, aerobic training programs should be designed to match each athlete’s fitness level. There are 3 ways to measure aerobic training intensity.

1. The “talk test.” During a workout, athletes should be able to say a few words comfortably, catch their breath, and resume talking. If it is difficult to say a few words, then athletes should probably slow down. If athletes can talk easily without getting out of breath, then they are probably not training hard enough.

2. Heart rate. Aerobic training occurs when heart rate during exercise is between 60% to 90% of maximal heart rate. Athletes can figure out their maximal heart rate by subtracting their age from 220.

Other factors affecting aerobic training response

  • Baseline fitness level. The more unfit athletes are, the greater the training response. However, as athletes become more fit, it will take higher levels of training to improve further.
  • Genetics. Genetics play a large role in an athlete’s natural fitness level as well as how much he will improve as a result of training.
  • Growth. As children grow, they are able to respond more to aerobic training. However, before puberty, the aerobic training response is much less than during and after puberty. This is why aerobic training is of limited value for improving endurance in young children. Activities should focus more on other goals, such as skill development and fun.