Today kicks off the start of National Physical Fitness and Sports Month. Adding small changes to your child’s routine, such as a walk after dinner or going for a bike ride, can improve muscular fitness, bone health, and heart health. Physical activity can also reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, some types of cancer, and lessen psychological effects such as depression and anxiety. For many working parents, it can be difficult to find time to incorporate exercise into their daily schedule or to cook healthy, wholesome meals on a regular basis. To alleviate the stress, families hire nannies that are active and can cook nutritious food for their children. Read on below for more information on how parents and child care professionals can make sure that their children are adhering to expected fitness standards.
Why is it Important for Kids to Get Exercise?
Childhood obesity is considered to be the number one health concern among parents in the United States, because a child that is obese can be afflicted by high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and psychological effects. Today, about one in five school-aged children (ages 6-19) has obesity. Adhering to an exercise routine can help children achieve and maintain a healthy body weight, and make sure that they have strong muscles, bones and joints as they transition into adulthood. Exercise also increases a child’s self-esteem and self-image, and children that are active have reported fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression.
How Much Physical Activity do Children Need?
Children and adolescents should complete one hour of physical activity each day. There are a number of fun and enjoyable ways for your children to meet that recommendation. An important thing to remember is that some types of physical activity are better-suited for children rather than adolescents or teenagers, so prior to registering your child for a class, make sure it’s age-appropriate. Below are the four types of exercise from which children benefit most.
Aerobic exercise qualifies as a routine that gets your heart pumping and your lungs working harder. The simple act of turning on music and dancing while assisting a parent with housework can help fulfill a child’s daily quota. Additional suggestions include skateboarding, rollerblading, fast walking, hiking, or swimming.
Muscle strengthening helps build a child’s muscles. Younger children will strengthen their muscles when they practice gymnastics, play on the jungle gym, or climb trees. Older children will strengthen their muscles when they practice push-ups, pull-ups or sit-ups, or work out with weights. For children under 13 years of age however, lifting heavy weights without professional supervision can stunt the child’s growth and put them at risk for long term back, knee and shoulder injuries.
Bone-strengthening exercises help build and maintain strong bones. Activities include jumping rope, running, or hiking.
Even your youngest child can join a yoga class to help make their muscles more flexible. Yoga can help improve strength, balance and flexibility. Parents can also start stretching with kids using this simple exercise: First, ask your child to lie down on their side, as straight as possible. Then, instruct them to slowly to lift their top leg up until their foot is about a shoulder high all while flexing their toes towards their head. Ask your child to hold their leg up there for a beat or two, and then repeat with 5 to 10 reps on each leg. This position enables them to stretch their calves and hamstrings.
A comprehensive list of child-friendly activities can be found on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Making Physical Activity a Part of a Child’s Life:
Below are some ways that parents can mold a child’s attitude toward fitness:
Set A Positive Example:
Children learn by emulating the actions of their parents. If your child sees his or her guardian practice an active lifestyle, they become likelier to follow along. One way that caregivers can do this is by incorporating fitness into the daily routine. Instead of relaxing with a television show after dinner, spend some time playing outside. This can mean taking a walk, running, or bike riding as a family.
Introduce Your Child to Active Communities:
Spend time at a playground, local fitness center, or gym. Parents should research the neighborhood options to see if there are family-friendly classes that they can take with their children. Becoming a regular at any of these community hot-spots will help your child to make friends and further motivate them to get out and be active. For more information about kid-friendly outdoor activities, check out our regularly updated weekend activities blog!
Encourage Interest In Recreational Activities Or Lessons:
Supporting your child’s roller-skating or skate-boarding habit is a great way for parents to motivate adolescents into adhering to a daily routine. Additional ideas include signing up your child for a swim, gymnastics, or sports-related class. An activity like gymnastics means that your child will be practicing aerobics but also engaging in muscle and bone strengthening during that time as well.
Always provide protective equipment such as helmets, wrist pads or knee pads when necessary. Make sure that the activity or lesson is age-appropriate for your child.
What if My Child Has a Disability?
Individuals with disabilities have a tendency to lead more sedentary lifestyles. However, that doesn’t always have to be the case. Instead, with the help of a medical professional chart an exercise routine that works best for your child.
How Can the Nanny Authority Assist with a Child’s Fitness Routine?
Here at the Nanny Authority, our child care professionals are health and fitness conscious, and aware of the developmental stages a child should be meeting. They are also responsible for keeping the kitchen well-stocked with wholesome foods and snacks, preparing meals with healthy ingredients, and helping their charges stay physically active. For more information on hiring a nanny, contact us at 973-466-2669 or via the website today!