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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    A preschooler should get 60 minutes or more of exercise daily through regular active play. For preschoolers this play may be free play/unstructured activity, while it may be partially directed or sports team-related for school-age children.
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    A , Fitness, answered

    Your children may be all you need to get in a good workout.  If your children are at the infant to toddler stage a few rounds of upsy daisy can give you a great upper body workout.  Got baby gates?   Step over’s are excellent for working the lower abdominals.  Walking is something you all can do together, and remember if you are pushing a stroller your are burning extra calories and helping to tone those triceps. Let your children motivate you to get up and play and you won’t even realize that you are exercising.

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    When children are growing, they are like sponges to different stimuli. They easily learn both good and bad habits. Exercise provides such a stimulus for the nervous system to learn new motor patterns. The brain is cognitively involved in this by the child understanding the exercise and then applying the proper movements to correctly perform the exercise. Through exercise, they learn to think and make movement related decisions quickly.

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    Exercise has several benefits for children. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 17% of children are obese, three times as many as 30 years ago. Three recent studies highlight the importance of exercise for kids and teens.
    • Even small amounts of exercise boost self-esteem in teens. Just minutes of stationary cycling improved an array of psychological effects for obese teens in a study from the Journal of Pediatric Psychology. Markers of self-esteem, scholastic abilities, body image and social competence all improved for the overweight adolescents.
    • Aerobic exercise cuts diabetes risk in children. Only 20 minutes a day help improve insulin resistance and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
    • Vigorous exercise boosts kids’ overall health. Adolescents, some obese, did more than seven minutes of intense exercise daily and improved waist size, blood pressure, body mass and other health measures. The kids averaged 12 years of age. This study appeared in Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.
    The takeaway: The lead researcher in one study stressed that parents should “throw away the scale” when helping their children, overweight or not, improve themselves physically and mentally. The key is to get them moving.
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    Working out with weights, or weight training, can be safe for children, and there is no evidence to suggest that when done safely it will stunt growth or cause injury. That being said, children should be supervised 100% of the time when weight training. Practicing proper technique and form are the most important part of weight training for children and should be continuously addressed. Since form and technique often suffer the most and since children's bodies are always changing and they are constantly learning coordination, weight should be kept light until form catches up, and increasing weight should be done slowly and cautiously. Remember, using body weight, as in push ups or squats, counts as weight training too. Check with your child's doctor before the child starts a weight training program.
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    Children need to engage in daily physical activity. Because of their young age their central nervous system is open to learning new human movements. Therefore, their activity should include basic fundamentally sound activities such as running, jumping, squatting, pulling, and pushing.  Spending a afternoon at the playground or playing various sports will call all these movements into action. 

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    A Healthcare, answered on behalf of
    Here are some general guidelines to help you determine when your preschooler may be ready for certain activities.
    • Age two: running; walking; galloping; jumping; and swimming with adult help and supervision
    • Age three: hopping; climbing; riding a tricycle or bicycle with training wheels and a helmet; and catching, throwing, and kicking a ball
    • Age four: skipping, playing tag, sledding, swimming, and completing an obstacle course
    • Age five: riding a bicycle while wearing a helmet; somersaulting; rollerblading or ice skating; gymnastics; soccer; and virtual fitness games (such as games for the Wii)
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    Barriers to an active lifestyle are very real, and I see them in my practice every day. They include:

    • Lack of energy, possibly due to poor sleep, poor nutrition, or medical ailment. If your child seems low on energy, a trip to the pediatrician may be in order to ensure that your child is healthy physically. A more well-balanced diet may boost energy level in a healthy child.
    • Lack of motivation, which can be caused by poor role-modeling, peer pressure, lack of options, or burnout. If you find that a lack of motivation and time constraints is your doing, it’s definitely time to reevaluate your lifestyle. Ask a trusted friend to help you figure out what obligations you might have that don’t add value to your family’s life. Don’t be shy; it’s possible they are thinking the same thing you are! You can join heads and find ways to carve out time for more family activity.
    • Time constraints, due to an overcrowded schedule or a poorly planned one.
    • Social factors, such as poor self-esteem, lack of confidence in athletic abilities, shyness.
    • Environmental barriers, such as extreme weather conditions, limited parks or yards, and unsafe neighborhoods.

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

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    A Healthcare, answered on behalf of
    According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, children and teens should be physically active for at least 60 minutes a day. Now, if your child or teen has been spending more time texting than being active, 60 minutes may sound like eternity. However, keep in mind that kids can break the 60 minutes into shorter periods spread throughout the day. Walking to and from school, playing tag at recess, raking leaves, and a quick game of basketball in the evening -- they all count toward the daily goal.
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    Before any form of exercise, make sure your child is of the appropriate age to start exercise.  As a child the best form of exercise is to be active.  No need to focus on any specific types of exercise.  If they enjoy sports then have them play sports.  If they enjoy running around then keep them running around.  If they enjoy going for nature walks then buy some nature books and find some trails.  Your goal should be to keep your child active and away from the TV as much as possible.

    As for the type of training that is best.  Interval training is a great form of training that can be complete via circuit training.  Circuit training is taking a variety of exercises, some strength and some endurance, and completing one after the next with minimal rest.  This will help keep intensity levels high and keep you active in shorter bouts of exercise.