The recommended daily physical activity is 60 minutes. However less than half of American children are meeting that recommendation. In fact, childhood obesity rates are on the rise. Nearly 9 percent of children ages 2 to 5 years old are obese. That number jumps dramatically to 21-percent for children ages 12 to 19.
Physical activity is an important component to battling this epidemic. Exercise doesn't have to be strenuous and it doesn’t have to be a traditional form of exercise. It can be as simple as a family walk after dinner. Walking after dinner helps to lower blood sugar and speed up digestion not to mention burn calories. Walking before bed can help with a better night’s sleep. Walking reduces stress and boosts circulation.
A weekend adventure walk is the perfect family activity. Is there a large park near your home? Mix up your walk with skipping, hopping, galloping, and a race between one tree and another. Get creative. Make it fun. And make it a habit.
Themed runs such as color runs and bubble runs are gaining in popularity. They are often easy enough for kids to join and sometimes there’s a shorter distance such as one mile just for kids. Cheer for your kids and make signs to encourage them to do their best.
Girls on the Run (GOTR) is a good organization that trains girls to run a 5K at the end of the program and includes nutrition and life tips as well.
There are a lot of options for becoming more active. Setting goals helps. Put a calendar on the fridge marking off every day that the family went on a walk and reward yourselves at the end of the week. Or, register for a race and train together for the event.
Creating a family activity, making it a habit, making it fun, will set a healthy foundation for everyone but especially for kids.
Corey Flynn NDTR, CDM, CFPP
Here is what they mean: Nutrition and Dietetics Technician, Registered; Certified Dietary Manager; and Certified Food Protection Professional. She is also an ACE certified personal trainer.
Corey has degrees in nutrition, photography, and journalism. She enjoys adventure triathlons and hiking. She is currently working on a master’s degree in public policy and management with a concentration in environment and sustainability at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public and International Affairs while working full time and caring for her husband, three children, three cats, a beagle, two geckos, and one goldfish