Childhood Obesity Awareness Month
In the past 30 years, childhood obesity has increased at an alarming rate. 30 years ago, gym class was a required course and kids loved to play outside for hours, running, chasing and jumping fences. Parents didn't have to pay top dollar for kids to participate in sports just to keep them busy and active. Kids would grab a ball, bat or just throw on their running shoes and challenge their friends and even their enemies to a good old street race.
We can blame the computer age, video games and even the school systems for cutting costs and eliminating programs but unfortunately, we need to blame ourselves. Our kids are our responsibility and with all the demands we have as parents, physical fitness might be the last thing on our minds. I get it. Having said that, let's make sure that we prepare them for a healthy life so that they can enjoy all the great things that life can offer them.
Ok, here are some facts that as parents and guardians, I think we should know:
- Americans spend $150 billion every year to treat obesity-related conditions with childhood obesity health care costs rapidly increasing that number.
- Approximately 17% of children and adolescents from the age of 2-9 are obese (12 million children) and approximately 32% are overweight (23 million children).
- Obesity is starting at an earlier age than ever before. Children between the ages of 2 and 5 are already obese or overweight.
- In the past 30 years childhood obesity rate has not doubled or tripled but quadrupled from 4.2 to 19.6%
Those are the facts from the "The Healthier America" statistics. There is so much more to share but I think we can only take so much info at a time.
Now, what can we do? Well, let's reminisce and think about our active childhood. Playing in the backyard, swinging on the swings and getting the neighborhood kids to play hide and seek. When I was a kid, my family had one of the biggest backyards. . .at least to me and all the kids in the neighborhood, it was huge! The sport of choice was Wiffle ball and all the kids would migrate to my house and we would play for hours. Talk about a lot of running, throwing and jumping!
As a family, you can grab bikes, scooters or roller blades (do they still roller blade?) and roll around your neighborhood for awhile or take a brisk walk with friends. If you have kids that are "BRAINS" when it comes to the books and would rather sit inside and read all day. . .that's cool but if they did 30 minutes of exercise everyday, it would not only stimulate skeletal muscles, it will also fire up their neuromuscular system too. Whisper that little fact in their ears and let them know exercise will make them smarter! Hey, it works in my house.
Get creative when it comes to getting your kids active and involved. Find out what physical activities excite them and get them involved. Thirty minutes a day is all they need, especially if they are not in an organized sport. Have fun, get out there and let's get these kids back in shape!
Ideas to get moving:
- Planting a garden: using your arm muscles to dig into the dirt, pulling weeds and planting seeds.
- Kickball: Running, kicking and stealing base uses all of the muscles in your legs, core and arms.
- Jumping Rope: jumping strengthens your calf muscles, thighs and tightens your core.
- Hide and Seek: exercises your mind to figure out where everyone could be hiding and you use your legs/arms to chase after one another.
- Swinging on a Swing: The higher you swing the more you use your core. Great way to loosen your leg, knee and arm joints as well!