You have undoubtedly heard that childhood obesity is rapidly on the rise. It now outranks all other health problems as the #1 concern for children in the United States. Equally disturbing is the fact that stress now ranks among the top 10 child health problems in America.
I'd be willing to bet that the rise in childhood obesity and stress directly corresponds with three things:
1. The decline in physical activity − the once obligatory recess and P.E. class − in schools.
2. The invasion of technology.
3. Fast empty calories.
Kids today are simply not moving like they used to. Of course neither are their sedentary parents. Think of all the "breakthroughs" that are supposed to make life easier -- elevators, escalators, computers, cable TVs, video games, cell phones, push-button devices for everything that used to require a little movement. These gadgets have produced kids that can navigate the internet with ease but can't skip rope or do a chin-up to save their life!
Add to all that the fact that children today are eating three times the number of calories they actually need, and you can see why we've got an epidemic on our hands.
Turning things around
I'm convinced that the only ones capable of turning this obese kids cruise ship around are parents. A wise man said, "Parents often talk about the younger generation as if they didn't have anything to do with it." But we know better. And, it's our responsibility. But before we coach our kids, we best coach ourselves.
Never forget that we are creatures of habit. If you're not watching what you eat or how much you exercise, you can be certain your child is. What a child observes he puts into practice.
A different generation
Don't make the mistake of assuming that your children are getting enough exercise. Most are not. We reminisce , as parents, back to what it was like when we grew up, and figure the whole exercise thing will work itself out with our kids.
But times have changed! I can't tell you how often I hear moms today say, "I just need some time alone, my kids are driving me nuts!" What a difference a half century makes. My mother's biggest problem was that she could never find us. After walking or riding our bikes two miles home from school, I stormed through the house while removing my clothes, grabbed a snack (usually fresh fruit verses the sugary stuff that comes rolled up), and hurried outside. I know, I was a bizarre little kid! Then I quickly found a friend, and spent every last ray of sunlight running, wrestling and playing.
For far too many kids today, especially in or near a city, their lives don't remotely resemble my childhood experience. They're lucky if they get any physical activity to speak of. They're shuttled to and from school, and after already sitting for 6-7 hours, once home, they plop themselves down yet again to surf the internet. Later they move in front of the TV to eat their dinner... a pizza!
With all that said, I do not recommend trying to make your children exercise! Trying to convince kids to exercise is an exercise in futility. On the other hand, coming up with a physical activity that you and your children can participate in, and enjoy, is very doable.
How do I know? Because we did it.
One evening after dinner I simply said, "Follow me." Then I went out to the drive way and drew four big squares with a big piece of chalk. We then played four square with a big rubber ball for hours.
How great is that!
My point is simply this; getting kids fit is not complicated, and it certainly does not have to be expensive. I think Wii fitness is a great idea but I guarantee you'll have more fun outside. After all, isn't the idea to get the kids away from the TV?
Get out there!
Here are some things you can do to create fit kids.
• Do everything you can to get your children involved in sports.
• Plan a time every weekend to take a hike as a family. Pick different interesting places in and around where you live that you've never visited before.
• Since you can easily record favorite shows, make one night of the week a "no TV night." Then use that time to do a healthy activity together.
• For dinner, at least one night of the week, prepare a meal that consists of no processed food. Everything must be natural and fresh. Get the kids involved with the recipes.
• When out together as a family, make a point of choosing the less sedentary option whenever possible. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, etc.
Finally, don't be the parents that Edward, Duke of Windsor, observed when he said, "The thing that impresses me most about America is the way parents obey their children." Remember, you're the boss! Your kids want you to take charge. You're the only fitness coach your kids have right now. So pump up the big rubber ball and go for it. Who knows, it may become a habit.
Former NFL player Dave Hubbard, known today as America's Fitness Coach®, has been lecturing on how to Get Fit For Life for over 20 years. He is the author of "FAT to Fit In Only 10 Minutes a Day! Learn Learn more about getting fit in 10 minutes a day at www.Fit10.com and read more from Dave on his blog at www.davehubbardfitness.blog.com.