How common is childhood obesity?
Childhood obesity is an escalating problem worldwide. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that about 19.3 percent of children and adolescents (2-19 years of age) in the U.S. are obese. The coronavirus pandemic put additional restrictions on our movement and schedules and caused an increase in the number of inactive, sedentary kids. Now that the situation is better and countries are relaxing restrictions, it is time to get our kids out of the house and physically active.
How much should kids exercise each day?
Pediatricians recommend that children who are 3-5 years of age should be active throughout the day. Kids who are 6-17 years of age should be physically active at least 60 minutes a day. Exercise is important for the physical and emotional development of kids. It helps maintain children's recommended body weight and improve their strength and stamina. It can be challenging to pull kids off couches and separate them from their smartphones. Nonetheless, physical activity is the need of the hour.
How can parents motivate their kids to exercise?
Here are eight tips that can help you motivate your kids to exercise.
- Lead by example: Children imitate adults. Start adding physical activity to your own routine, and encourage your child to join you. Make your kids run with you, jump around the house, and skip with you. Additionally, they can climb stairs at the designated time of the day as a workout tactic.
- Include kids in household activities: Many household chores, such as washing the dog or car or mowing the lawn, are great opportunities to sneak in a little physical activity in their routine.
- Walk or cycle to school: It is a good idea to buy them a sturdy bicycle. If they can cycle to school or to buy stuff from the supermarket, they automatically fulfill their quota of daily exercise. Moreover, roller-skating is a good option.
- Reward: Give your child a small gift every time they use stairs instead of elevators. The gift can be a piece of their favorite fruit or a protein bar.
- Fun activities: Does your kid like to swim? Sign up for a swimming hour. Are they motivated by The Karate Kid? Sign them up for a martial arts class. Turn on the music and have a dance party for an hour twice a week. If they love basketball or soccer, enroll them at the local club.
- Family time: Plan weekend trips to the zoo, park, or miniature golf course. You can hike in nearby mountains and have a picnic. Camping is another neat option.
- Make activity social: Invite kids in the neighborhood and form a skating/cycling/ball game club. Make sure they meet up at least four times a week and engage in an hour-long physical activity. If possible, enroll in rock climbing or hiking clubs in the vicinity. A walk along the beach is a good idea if that is possible.
- Buy gifts that promote physical activity: Rollerblades, bicycles, ice skates, soccer balls, and even active-play video games make great gifts that promote physical activity. You may buy them activity-tracking apps. They can record their progress and improvement in their fitness scores is an excellent motivator.
How can parents help their kids develop healthy eating habits?
Eating healthy is as important as performing physical activity. Healthy eating must be encouraged from an early age to prevent undue weight gain and childhood obesity. Make sure your kids know the importance of fruits and veggies over processed and fat-laden fast food. Fill your fridge with fruits, low-fat yogurts, nuts, and milk. Include plenty of vegetables, fruits, and whole-grain products in your daily diet. Choose lean meats, poultry, and fish for lunch and dinner instead of burgers and pizzas. Encourage your kid to drink a lot of water. You can add anise, lemon, and mint to water to make it more delectable. Do not buy colas and artificial juices and stock your fridge with sugary drinks.
Do not label your child lazy and berate them for being inside the house all day. Is your child avoiding going out because they are being bullied on the playground or they feel exhausted with little activity? Talk to your child and find out if there is any other reason they prefer being sedentary. Chalk out a regimen both of you can enjoy and stick to that. Remember, small changes every day can lead to a noticeable change in lifestyle.