Tags: Health, In This Issue
Excessive weight is a problem careening out of control in Indiana. Today children are more sedentary than ever. TV, video games, computer use and mindless eating are contributing to overweight children. Hours of sedentary activity add up quickly. However, with a little thoughtful planning, it doesn't have to be difficult for your child to be physically active.
Benefits of physical activity
Be a role model
- Builds stronger bones, muscles, lungs, heart
- Better sleep, mood, attention
- Increases self-confidence, self-esteem
- Increases ability to handle physical, emotional challenges
- Reduces incidence of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, breathing problems—to name a few
Even if you don't exercise as much as you'd like, you can still be a good role model for your children.
- When you are shopping or running errands, park as far as possible from the door.
- Avoid the elevator and take the stairs whenever possible.
- Take a family walk after dinner.
- When watching TV, use commercials to do a few squats, push-ups, lunges, planks, sit-ups or jumping jacks.
- Rather than just letting the dog out, run with him. A little game of chase is great for your pup and you.
Tips for sneaking in more exercise
There's no need to wait until there's a large of chunk of time for your child to exercise. Carve out five to fifteen minutes in increments.
- Stretch as a family in the morning.
- Encourage a bike ride after school.
- Set up a basketball hoop in your driveway.
- Take a hike at a nearby park.
- Set up a treasure hunt or obstacle course in your backyard: Time your child finding hidden objects or running from a tree and back. Get creative with timed drills. Record your child's time and encourage him to beat his best time as time progresses.
- Design challenge games with a jump rope and hula hoop.
- Play Frisbee, tag football, hide and seek.
- Dance with your child to his favorite tunes; create a special playlist for your child.
Also, check out iuhealth.org/changetheplay
Team, individual sports
Although life is hectic, it is important to find time dedicated to increased physical activity. Help your child find an activity he loves. Keep trying—exposing your child to various options will help him discover something he enjoys. If your child enjoys the activity, it won't seem like exercise. Call or check the websites of your local YMCA or community center to learn about your options.
By age six or so, group sports such as T-ball and soccer are good options. Perhaps your child would prefer gymnastics, swimming, tennis, hockey or martial arts? The choices are nearly endless—and encouraging your child to get active early will help him embrace an active lifestyle as he ages.
No matter what sport your child prefers, as a parent you'll need to encourage him to keep safety top of mind. First, ensure your child gets a physical exam from his pediatrician. Encourage your child to drink plenty of water before, during and after exercise. Insist on the use of a helmet when your child is biking or skateboarding. Be wary of heat and humidity and insist on breaks when they are needed.
Why delay? The more you move, the more you lose. Get active. Your family's Health is at stake!
For more information visit rileyhospital.org
George Gantsoudes, M.D., is a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health.