Starting your Child on an Exercise Program
Exercise programs for kids are hugely important. America holds the not so illustrious title of the fattest nation in the world and this moment, our kids are poised to inherit that title. That is something that all parents would not find as a particularly comforting thought.
For those of you not yet convinced that an exercise program for your kids isn’t a priority: The American Obesity Association states the single largest factor in childhood obesity is lack of physical activity and excessive sedentary behavior—that is to say, watching too much TV and playing too many video games.
Why Start My Kid on an Exercise Program?
Outside of the social pariah status of the obese in our society, there are significant, easily avoidable health risks involved with obesity. The AOA lists common health conditions associated with children who are obese because of lack of regular exercise. These conditions include asthma, Type 2 Diabetes, hypertension, orthopedic problems, and most frightening, sleep apnea—a condition in which breathing ceases during sleeping. Obviously not permanently, but the effects are loss of focus and a significant increase in the loss of logical thought.
An exercise program for your children is so important because of the large amount of health problems associated with those are inactive—namely obesity. Since 1974, the number of children classified as obese under the age of 11 has increased more than four times; from roughly 4 per cent to over 16 per cent in 2000 with the single largest cause of obesity is lack of exercise.
To help your child avoid these health risks, not to mention the psychological risks of being outcast because of weight, you need to set them up on a regular exercise program. Children’s exercise programs are not hard to do—just get them outside or keep them inside, but focus on them getting active.
It’s important to realize than a children’s exercise program does not necessarily mean pumping iron—rather it has more to do with cardiovascular activities that burn lots of energy. Examples of great cardiovascular activities are running, swimming, rowing, canoeing, rock climbing—the list goes on. It also doesn’t need to be simply running—it can be a game of tag, catch, playing soccer outdoors; anything that gets your kids heart beating and gets them sweating a bit.
Research has also shown that obese children tend to be more depressed than other children who are fit. In addition, physical activities, especially cardiovascular activities can actually make you feel great. The so called “runner’s high” is caused when someone who is engaged a high amount of cardiovascular activity gets a massive dump of dopamine into the brain—a chemical that instills a euphoric state in the person doing the activity, a natural high.
It would seem logical that getting your child on an exercise program should be a paramount as a parent to ensure the health and happiness of your child. But along with the exercise goes a good diet, healthy relationships, staying active, and of course, laughing a lot. All of these things contribute to your child’s life, and an exercise program for your child is, in reality, just a piece of the puzzle.