Healthy Kids, Fit Kids: It All Starts at Home!
By Cheri Fuller
There’s a lot of talk and controversy today about what schools are trying to do to help overweight kids. Some parents protest that they don’t want their kids’ BMI (body mass index) to be on their report card or have them humiliated or singled out for special programs. I don’t blame them! However, there is reason to be concerned. Each year from fourth grade on, children get less active and less fit, and over 30% are obese. By the teen years, 63% of kids are sedentery and rarely move their bodies except to get up and grab some more pop and chips before they spend another hour on a video game.
What’s the cause of this epidemic of childhood obesity? Lack of exercise and a high fat, fast-food diet is a big part of the problem. A recent survey showed that American kids exercise less and down more fries than school-aged children in other countries. And because of the constant lure of video and computer games, TV, and movies, kids just don’t move their bodies as much as they used to. In addition, many schools have eliminated physical education from the school day, and most children are driven to school instead of ride their bike or walk because of safety issues.
The good news is your children can grow up healthy and fit, and the benefits are enormous. Here are a few that research shows:
- Physically fit children scored higher on several areas of academic achievement, helps them focus and concentrate on their tasks and thus enjoy school more.
- Physically fit kids have fewer chronic health problems, higher self-esteem, and are better able to meet the demands in the classroom.
- Exercise increases the oxygen supply kids are getting, stimulates brain power, and even increases creativity!
- Physically fit kids are calmer and less anxious.
Getting healthy and fit is just a series of small steps both in your eating habits and your lifestyle. As a mom, here are some things you can do:
Be a role model. Active parents raise active kids! Take the lead and introduce your kids to a variety of physical activities and healthy eating (they tend to do as we DO, not as we say!). We’re going to look at ways to “move your body” in the next chapter.
Don’t leave out P.E.! Encourage your child’s school to include P.E. as part of every day. If you’re a homeschool mom, incorporate exercise (jump roping, flying kites, nature walks, going to the park, shooting baskets) into your day.
An hour a day of healthy play! During the after-school hours, it’s crucial for kids to be active, not in front of the TV or computer screen (where the average child—including preschoolers—in American spends 25 to 30 hours a week). After active play, then they can do homework, read or have quiet time. Avoid after-school programs that warehouse kids with VCR and video games and aim for at least an hour a day of healthy play and several hours of activity on the weekends.
Find out what your kids enjoy and give them opportunities to do it. All children aren’t going to be soccer or baseball stars or even enjoy competitive sports. There’s also bowling, kayaking, cycle clubs, running, martial arts, dance, and lots more! On rainy days, turn up the music and dance up a storm together in the living room. Walk the dog and your kids after dinner and you’ll find about lots more about their lives than if you were in front of a sitcom.
Make healthy eating fun. Instead of putting your child on a diet, put the whole family on a healthy eating plan. Take your child to the grocery store to help choose her favorite fruits and veggies and learn to read nutrition labels. Buy fewer high-calorie, processed, low-nutrient junk foods than you did last week. And encourage your kids to eat healthy to be FIT rather than THIN.
Let finicky eaters shred or chop veggies and add to muffin mixes. When you focus on healthy food and get the whole family involved in heart-pumping, fun activities, then fitness becomes a family affair—and you’ll see the benefits at home, at school, and for a lifetime.
Copyright 2007 Adapted from The Mom You’re Meant to Be: Loving Your Kids While Leaning on God by Cheri Fuller. Use only by permission of the author, email@example.com.
(Use only with permission of author.)