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Physical Fitness for the Whole Family

Posted Oct 03 2011 7:28am

Today’s post is a guest contribution from Dan Gilbert, on behalf of Primrose Schools.  As colder weather approaches I’m already worried about how I’ll keep up our current level of daily physical activity when we can’t get outside as much.  I enjoyed Dan’s article and the reminders on just how important it is for us to find ways to be active as a family.  He’s shared some great inspiration for keeping physical activity front of mind.  I’d love to hear from you with your favorite ways to stay active during the cold weather months.

PHYSICAL FITNESS FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY

According to child development experts, kids need anywhere from an hour to several hours of physical activity every day.  Exercise is good for the mind and body and children aren’t nearly as active as they could be.  Physical inactivity, combined with processed foods has made obesity skyrocket in US kids over the past 20 years.  The following statistics show exactly how grim the situation is:

  • According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, up to 33 percent of children and adolescents are obese in the United States. 
  • The trust for America’s Health states that in 60% of US states, the percentage of obese kids are at or above 30%.

Primrose Schools has found that children who are able to spend time learning and practicing their basic motor skills, like catching and throwing, kicking and jumping and even skipping have better balance and are more likely to grow into adults with healthy active lifestyles.  Daily physical activity is also good for brain chemicals, helping kids develop academically as well.  Basic physical development is an essential part of child development.  Primrose is a family of preschools that builds active minds, healthy bodies and happy hearts amongst its youngsters. 

Dr. Stephen Sanders, author, professor, and director of the School of Physical Education and Exercise Science at the University of South Florida is a member of the Primrose Schools Education Advisory Board.  He says that children do not necessarily learn physical skills on their own.  He has found they need guidance and assistance from adults, challenging activities, and opportunities to practice and refine physical skills.  Parents have the power to increase the quality and the quantity of physical time in order to reverse the trend of obesity in children.  here are some ideas for teaching children the value of physical activity and creating a fun environment where physical fitness is part of life and comes as naturally as breathing:

Tips for Keeping Kids Physically Active:

  • Make sure there are places for physical activity.  In a home, that may mean that the lawn is mowed regularly, but in an apartment that may mean that a pull-up bar is in the kitchen doorway.  Look for places in and around your home where kids can be active and safeguard your children’s ability to enjoy being active when they visit.
  • Keep sports and fitness equipment readily available and in good working order.  Make sure you have an air pump or compressor available for refilling balls.
  • Provide plenty of balls, hockey sticks, hoops, bats, rackets, paddles, jump ropes, sidewalk chalk, hula hoops and other outdoor toys.  Give fitness equipment as birthday and holiday gifts, and make sure everything is easily visible when stored, so it doesn’t get forgotten.
  • Play with children, instead of just sending them outside to play.  When you value fitness and exercise, your kids will see that it’s important and are more likely to value it as well.
  • Get a bucket of sidewalk chalk to create impromptu games of four-square or hopscotch.
  • For smaller children, keep a bottle of bubble solution in your purse and blow bubbles when you’re stuck waiting somewhere.  Kids love chasing them around to pop them.
  • Seize every opportunity to dance, when it’s time to clean the house or make dinner or even just to get ready for school, crank up the music and dance around the house.  Dancing can be one of the most fun ways to be active, without even knowing it!
  • Stress the importance of enjoyment rather than competition.  It doesn’t matter who can throw the ball farther or who can run faster, it matters that kids are enjoying the way it feels to be in command of their bodies.  Skills increase incrementally and kids who are hounded to compete often end up having more stress than fun.

About Primrose Schools:   For over 25 years Primrose Schools have helped individuals achieve higher levels of success by providing them with an AdvancED® accredited, early child care services and education.  Through an accelerated Balanced Learning® curriculum, Primrose Schools students are exposed to a widely diverse range of subject matter giving them a much greater opportunity to develop mentally, physically and socially. Dan has written a number of articles on topics varying from bilingual learning to teaching the importance of volunteering.

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