Is Your Child Exercising Enough?

As an adult, you are well aware of how important it is for you to exercise regularly. Not only does this help keep your weight in check, but it also helps to keep you healthy. While adults are used to worrying about issues like diabetes and high blood pressure for themselves, few think of these ailments as something that can affect their children.

Yet, with the rising number of children suffering from obesity, issues like heart disease, childhood diabetes and high blood pressure are beginning to affect your children as well. Just as with adults, though, exercise is the key to making sure your children live long, healthy lives. But are your children exercising enough?

In School
When you were growing up, PE class was a regular part of your school’s curriculum. Whether you loved it or hated it, you had to go everyday. Unfortunately, this is not the case today. In this age of budget cuts, many schools have found themselves in the position of having to eliminate or cut back on the number of physical education classes their students attend. While some schools are lucky enough to have a permanent gym teacher on staff, others have had to resort to bringing in an outside physical education teacher once a week, or relying on their already overworked classroom teachers to fit in a gym class when they can.

A 2003 study conducted by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development found that, on average, grade 3 students received only 25 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity per week in school. Yet, the American Heart Association recommends that children receive at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily and another 30 minutes of vigorous exercise three to four times a week. The U.S. government dietary guidelines go even further and recommend that children receive 60 minutes daily of moderate exercise.

Out of School
If your children are not receiving enough exercise in school, then get them active outside of school. And don’t think that exercise for kids means running on a treadmill every night. Tell them to go outside and ride their bike with their friends, jump rope, play tag or any number of other active games that they will enjoy.

In addition to these games, you may also want to sign your child up for some organized sports. Not only will it help your child get active, but it will also aid in your child’s development. Along with building their gross motor skills, your child will refine their social skills, ability to co-operate, increase their self-discipline and build their self-confidence.

Before you sign your child up, though, do a test run at home of a few different sports and see if there is one that your child particularly seems to enjoy. Don’t forget to ask your child if she herself has any preference as to what organized activity she does. Some great organized sports you may want to look into include:

  • Swimming
  • Dance
  • Hockey
  • Gymnastics
  • Soccer
  • Skating
  • Football
  • Karate or Tae Kwon Do
  • Baseball

Check with your child’s school, your city’s parks and recreation association or your religious organization to see which after-school programs they offer. But remember, it is not just your child that needs to commit to the activity; parents also need to be committed. It is you who will be providing the equipment, transportation and positive support that your child needs.

If, for some reason, you are worried that the regular activity will affect your child’s health, then make an appointment with his doctor to discuss the issue and have a check-up. Even if your child has suffered from a chronic condition, some sports may still be suitable, so be sure to discuss the issue with his doctor.

A Life Time Habit
All children need to have at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity daily. Of course, more than this is always better than less. Regular exercise will not only help keep your child healthy now, but it will also help lay the foundation for good activity habits in the years to come. And don’t forget that children learn by example, so get out there and be active with your child. You’re never too old for a good game of tag!

How much do you know about safety in youth sports? Click here to learn more about personal safety issues during sports activities.