Fitness For Children

Fitness For Children

Fitness For Children
With childhood obesity rates at an all time high, fitness for children is extremely important. There are many ways to make fitness fun for children – walking, dancing or just throwing the ball around outside. And any time that the whole family is included is an extra bonus.

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    Make sure that your child is properly hydrated. Your child needs to not only be drinking fluids during activity but also before and after. During competition, drinks such as Gatorade or PowerAde provide the essential fuel for the body. Also encourage your child to drink water along with a drink like Gatorade. (This answer provided for NATA by the California University of Pennsylvania Athletic Training Education Program.)
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    A , Physical Therapy, answered

    Great question! It’s never too young to work the core. Many good core exercises for adults are based upon developmental postures and movements which kids typically automatically spend time in. Recognizing these movements and creating games and challenges to utilize them allows for integration of nervous system development as well as local strengthening to the “core”.

    For instance, movement in a “bear walk” is a developmental progression from crawling. We exercise adults in quadruped (all fours like crawling); kids do well with walking on hands and feet (just pick up your knees from an all fours position). Set up a course around the yard or living room and see who is the fastest “bear walker”. Weight bearing on the arms encourages development of scapular control, and the reciprocal pattern of the walking movement is great to activate the diagonal muscle systems of the front and back of the core.

    Also, kids love to hang on things, their innate body weight to strength ratio is quite impressive when compared to a typical adult. When supervised appropriately, one can sometimes trick them into doing core strength on the monkey bars or rings at the playground. Challenge them to see how long they can hang with their knees tucked up towards their chest (as if they were sitting in a chair). This posture mimics the most initial stage of core stabilization we ever achieve as humans, the typical position of a 3-4 month old infant lying on his back playing with his toes. At this time, the infant has activated a perfect breathing and core stabilization pattern. This great early core exercise then utilizes the same muscle pattern against gravity when hanging from a bar or rings. For kids as young as two, set up a low set of rings (Ikea sells a safe but inexpensive set) over a soft surface and count how long they can hold a tuck hang.

    Keep your kid’s core strong from the start and, hopefully, you can ward off some of the weakness we all develop as we are overtaken by our chair dwelling society. The Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization (DNS) program at www.rehabps.com provides a much deeper look into developmental postures and exercise.

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    A , Internal Medicine, answered
    It's important to establish a year-round plan to ensure your children get plenty of physical activity and establish habits for lifelong good health. Try the following:
    1. Get off the sofa and away from the computer! Active parents have children who are five to six times more physically active than children of couch potatoes.
    2. Plan all-season family activities. Walk for 45 minutes after dinner, take children to a swim club twice a week, go on weekend hikes, or do tasks around the yard.
    3. Make exercise a community effort. Call teachers, neighbors and parents of your children's friends. Plan activities together and lobby your school board. Get daily physical education back into your school!
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    Exercising with your toddler is feasible but will present some challenges.  Your number one goal should be to work within their schedule.  Toddlers are very active so chasing them around will be your first challenge and this will help keep you active.  Another way to exercise with your toddler is to put them in a stroller and go for a walk, run, hike, and/or bike ride.  All of these forms of exercise will give you some fresh air and your toddler as well but be sure the weather is appropriate. 

    Other forms of exercise that can be done with your toddler include some of the following:  Place them on your shoulders and complete squats.  If you are curious how to perform a squat then here is a quick breakdown, find a chair, stand right in front of it with heels towards the chair, place your weight in your heels and bend at your hips, lower yourself to the chair and return to start.  Now add your toddler for some added resistance.  Another exercise would be to complete push-ups with your toddler sitting on your back as if they were about to embark on an adventure!  Push-ups are challenging without added resistance so to help use that chair you previously used for squats, and lower your body towards the chair.  This will raise your body to allow you to complete full range of motion push-ups.  Lastly, keep your toddler on your back and crawl around in your living room.  This may sound like a strange suggestion but crawl around for a while and tell me if you still think the suggestion was worth or not.

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    A , Pharmacy, answered
    You can make sure that your child gets enough exercise at school by first finding out if the school has a comprehensive health program that includes physical education. PE has fallen by the wayside in many schools as more emphasis has been placed on academics, but it's important that children have a chance to move their bodies and take a break from the books during the day. If physical education is not a regular part of your child’s curriculum, talk to school officials. If you can, band with other parents; often there's more strength in numbers.

    In general, children and teens need 60 minutes of activity a day. Exercise is important for building strong bones and muscles and reducing the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes and many other conditions. If your kid isn't getting much physical activity while she's at school, do all you can to make up for it: Sign her up for a town sports team or dance classes, and organize family activities, like bike riding, gardening, playing tag or taking walks after dinner. Even in cool or cold weather, you can rake leaves together or have snowball fights.
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    A Pediatrics, answered on behalf of

    All children should get at least sixty minutes of daily exercise. For a preschooler, do not worry about the exercise being structured. Just look at how kids play. If adults just copied all the motions that an average preschooler does during one hour of simple outdoor play, we would be in great shape.

    In addition to exercise, make sure your preschooler is eating healthy. Encourage fruits and veggies as snacks. Do not even buy junk food or sugary drinks. Good exercise and healthy eating habits are two incredibly important things you can do for your child.

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    To find an activity your child enjoys, the best thing to do is experiment a little. Expose her to many options and ask her which she enjoys most. Also encourage her to try things she hasn’t tried before. There may be an activity she likes and has never tried before.
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    A answered

    Your child’s world doesn’t have to be limited. Moms, Dads, think fresh start. Think back to being a kid. Think about those times when you would get totally absorbed in an activity. Remember your thoughts, feelings, curiosity, creativity, and the urge to explore. Bring back that playful spirit and share it with your kids. Forget the word exercise and think fun, fun, fun. Being active as a kid is playing. Building forts. Chasing one another. Playing tag. Riding bikes. Kick ball!

    And you often can join right in on the game. You know how entertaining it is to watch someone who’s having fun? It’s a contagious energy. By connecting with your playful spirit -- that spirit that was effortless as a child -- your children will notice when you’re having fun and want to be part of it.

    From Good Kids, Bad Habits: The RealAge Guide to Raising Healthy Children by Jennifer Trachtenberg.

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    A Orthopedic Surgery, answered on behalf of
    More than 38 million children participate in organized sports in the United States each year. Although sports participation provides numerous physical and social benefits, it also has a downside: the risk of sports-related injuries.
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    A , Internal Medicine, answered
    Physical activity reduces stress and calms kids, making them happier and more attentive in the classroom. Physically fit children are also more likely to skip risky behaviors. Physical education (PE) is one of the best ways to battle both obesity, which affects 30% of all teens, and type 2 diabetes, which has increased in kids 21% since 2001. Obesity and diabetes threaten children's heart health—even while they're young—and place a huge economic burden on society.

    Believe it or not, in the United States only 8% of elementary schools and 6% of middle schools and high schools provide daily PE for everyone, and 20% of elementary schools have abolished physical education altogether.
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