If you had to guess how many kids actually got the recommended amount of exercise, what would you say?
I would’ve optimistically hoped at least half of them were getting adequate exercise. That would account for a few outliers and extraneous factors that prevented physical activity. But I’d be way off. It’s closer to a quarter. Only 22.5 percent of girls and 27 percent of boys met the guidelines for exercise in 2012, according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey National Youth Fitness Survey, revealed in a recent report.
You’d think that has to mean that exercise recommendations are exorbitantly high. I mean, kids are full of energy. I can’t keep mine still even if I sit on top of him — not that I do that. Sadly, the guidelines are quite reasonable: a mere hour of moderate to vigorous activity each day. I know that can be tough for some kids (and the parents who have to ensure they do it), especially during these cold and often dreary winter months. But with so many options out there that count as “exercise,” I think we should at least be meeting this goal halfway, if not by more.
We never used to have to think of kids needing exercise; they just got it by default. Running outside, playing catch, and swinging on the monkey bars was the norm. Now, it’s video games, computers, and TV. That means we need to fight to get kids moving, and gym class is a great place to start. Exercise for kids not only helps with weight, strength, and bone density, it also improves self-esteem, and decreases the risks for health problems like type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. It doesn’t help that kids barely get any gym time at school anymore, either. It means we have to work that much harder as parents to make sure we fit exercise into our daily routine.
Here are some activities to get your kids moving this winter:
1. Go sledding. Play tag. Ride bikes. Play hopscotch or red light green light.
2. Play the Wii or Dance Dance Revolution
3. Get a kids workout DVD
4. Do Mickey’s Hot Dog Dance (over and over and over … you know the one, at the end of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse …)
5. Jump on the trampoline or go to a bounce house place
6. Hit up the playground
The head of Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move fight-against-obesity campaign, Sam Kass, states, “We are currently facing the most sedentary generation of children in our history.”
That’s not something to be taken lightly. It sure makes me think twice about the message I’m sending my 2-year-old when I tell him it’s too dark and cold to play outside. I suppose my lack of gym visits in the past couple months doesn’t set the best example either. Re-reading these statistics makes me want to think a little bit more about how hard I try to make my son like the gym daycare. (As in, I don’t try at all anymore.) If he thinks of the gym as a fun place or sees Mom having fun exercising, at least it’s laying some positive groundwork.
How do you get your kids up and moving?