The Immense and Simple Benefits of Physical Activity Children - Movement as a Family
Updated: Aug 19, 2021
Did you know only 1 in 4 children meet the basic minimum guidelines for physical activity?
First, let's define what physically active means: physically active means moving enough to breathe heavily, be short of breath, feel warm and work up a sweat. You want to focus on the three elements of fitness:
Run away from the kid who's "it" (endurance) - with aerobic exercise, large muscles are moving, heart beats faster, strengthening the heart and improves the body's ability to deliver oxygen to all its cells.
Cross the monkey bars (strength) - this doesn't mean your kids need to start lifting weights. Rather, exercises like pushups, crunches, swinging on the monkey bars, or doing a handstand are great ways to improve their overall strength.
Bend down to tie their shoes (flexibility) - stretching, yoga, cartwheels, or backbends are great for improving the body's flexibility, improving mind - body awareness, and boosting self - confidence.
Exercise and movement is vital to the overall health and well - being of children. Physical activity is a critical part of a child's growth. Not moving is not an option. Here is why!
Build and maintain healthy bones, muscles and joints
Keep a healthy body mass index (BMI) and reduce the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease later in life
Promote and encourage more restful sleep
Beyond benefits to the body, physical activity has also been shown to:
Boost a child's mental and behavioral health
Boost self - esteem
Improve focus and academic performance
Reduce stress, anxiety and depression
Regardless of the age of your child, choose an activity that is appropriate for their age. Whereas I don't advocate weight bearing exercises for children 3 - 12, I have used 2 - 3 pound weights with my daughters Emilia and Francesca and their friends when conducting impromptu beach bootcamp workouts. My daughters have grown up in the gym, surrounded by my clients - some of the world's my famous models, actors and celebrities, but like all children, no two are exactly alike, nor do they gravitate towards the same type of movement or exercise.
TOP TIPS TO GET AND KEEP YOUR TODDLER MOVING
First and most importantly, model the behavior you want your child to emulate.
After dinner walks are one of my favorite and organic rituals I do with my daughters. The benefits include: aiding in digesting their meal; quality bonding time without devices; and the calming effect of walking that should help relax and calm the body and brain; and help promote more restful sleep.
Whether you live in the middle of a big city, in the country, or by a beach, there are numerous benefits to putting on a bicycle helmet and going for a bike ride. Cycling is great cardiovascular exercise, builds core strength and endurance, and is great for building fine motor skills.
KEEP IT SIMPLE! A childhood favorite, and one my daughters and their friends favorite ways to work up a sweat, is an invigorating game of tag. It's safe, fun, can be done anytime, and doesn't cost anything.
Parents, don't be afraid to revisit your childhood. From playing catch with a ball, 'hit the penny' and hopscotch, these were just some of the ways we passed the time and kept our bodies moving. I often feel that 'everything old is new again!' So, you could imagine my delight when Emilia and Francesca asked for a hula hoop and starting showing major skill. By the way, amazing way to get a core workout!
For kids 8 - 12, here are some things that you can do to get the laziest couch potato up and moving, especially when they are feeling rather Schplah(tm)
A little competition goes a long way. Relay races, plank challenges, or even pushup contests [Francesca schooling Kate Upton on how to do the perfect pushup]
Organized team sports helps promote friendships and teamwork, and though it was sorely missed last summer due to COVID-19 restraints, it's back this summer and will be part of the academic year in 2021. All that said, safest to keep team sports outdoors. Emilia and Francesca just completed one month of Sports Camp, focusing on softball. Safety protocols were in place as they were masking on the bus to camp, and keeping masked and socially distant when on the field playing. POST - SCRIPT - they had an amazing summer, honed their softball skills, and they will be ready for the Summer Olympics in Paris in 2032!
One thing to remember, keep the activity fun, engaging, but not hyper - focused on the results. It is important to empower your children so that they aren't discouraged, or feel bad about themselves.
Raising Fit Kids
Combining regular physical activity with a healthy diet is the key to a healthy lifestyle.
Here are some tips for raising fit kids:
Help your kids do in a variety of age - appropriate activities
Set a regular schedule for physical activity
Make being active a part of daily life, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator
Embrace a healthier lifestyle yourself, so you'll be a positive role model for your family
Be active together as a family
Keep it fun, so your kids will come back for more