Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Helping Kids To Be More Active

I get concerned each time I hear statistics about childhood obesity. This problem is only compounded when kids have a sedentary lifestyle. I'm sure diet is the biggest culprit, but inactivity among children is also a contributing factor.

I've seen stories in the news where P.E. classes are no longer offered in many schools due to budget shortages or where liability concerns over injuries at recess have resulted in playground equipment being removed.

I don't want to sound like the grumpy old man, but in my day we walked to school, rode bikes (without helmets or pads), played on dangerous playground equipment, and looked forward to recess as the highlight of the day. I appreciate the efforts of society to protect our young, but sometimes I think we are creating a generation of wimps. If our parents and grandparents were to be judged by today's standards, I'm sure many of them would qualify to have their kids taken away because of the "dangerous" things they allowed their kids to do when we were growing up.

Video games, television, and heavy Internet use are causing many kids to become sedentary. What really makes me angry about this problem is that I am also guilty of raising sedentary kids myself. I constantly find myself telling my kids to settle down and stop running around. I tell them to be careful, to not get hurt or get dirty or get holes in their knees of their pants. Sometimes it sounds like I am trying to change my kids into furniture.

This has been a painful realization for me since I love sports and pride myself on being active, yet I have hardly taught any sports to my kids. I know sports aren't for everyone and I don't believe kids should be forced to participate in them, but it's sad when kids don't even know how to throw a ball or understand the basic rules to different sports.

I am committing to be a better parent and to create opportunities for my kids to be more active. In case you are also guilty of raising sedentary kids, here are some suggestion that can help you remedy this situation and keep your kids from turning into couch potatoes.

* Put time limits on TV, Internet, and video game playing.
* Sign them up for swimming, karate, dance lessons or a team sport.
* Take your kids to the park and just let them run around.
* Set an example for your children. They are more likely to exercise if you do.
* Take your kids camping or on a hike. Spend more time outdoors.
* Just throwing a Frisbee or playing catch is a good start.

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