Friday, April 17, 2009

This May be the First Generation That Does Not Outlive Its Parents

The statistics are staggering.71.5 % of California grade students in the 2007-2008 School Physical Fitness Test failed to achieve the criteria set to be in the “Healthy Fitness Zone.”

Childhood obesity rates have tripled in the last three decades, and studies show that 80% of overweight children become overweight adults. The possible outcomes are sobering. The associated health risks range from Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, coronary heart disease, and stroke to gall bladder disease, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, respiratory problems and some forms of cancer. The occurrence of these diseases in youth is on the rise and the age of onset is getting younger. An overweight child can suffer developmental changes that are not reversed even if they lose the extra weight and get fit. These include changes to bones and bone growth plates, metabolism, and the number of fat cells a person has for the rest of their life. For the first time in history, American children may have a shorter lifespan than their parents.

A person who is unfit or overweight can get in shape and lose weight. Now is the time to involve your kids in a fitness program. So where do you begin? We have some ideas….


All of these suggestions lead up to one real solution. Spend real time with your kids. When kids are young, we go to the park with them, play in the front yard with sidewalk chalk, go for bike rides, etc. They can’t do these things on their own and they are not yet in school or involved in team sports, so it is truly up to us as parents to get them outside and moving. As our kids get older, we become their chauffeur, their swim/baseball/soccer/softball coach gets more time with them than we do. This doesn’t have to be the case. Even though they are busy with their activities, whether it’s sports or the arts, I will bet there is some time in the day to be active together. Ask yourself this question, “Do we spend time during the week watching TV together?” If your answer is yes, then you can be active together….


To inspire your children to put on their sneakers, be a role model. Watching you do it -- and seeing the benefits you get from being fit -- is likely to make them want to try it. Show them how exhilarating running can be by taking them to a high school track meet. Once they're ready to try something, whether it is running, swimming, biking, or shooting hoops in the front yard, ease them into it. Start out slowly, build up gradually, and allow kids to stop and rest anytime they want. When the kids are younger make it a game…freeze tag with the whole family, or hopscotch on the sidewalk will yield great fitness benefits and you’ll have fun together.


There are kid’s fitness programs popping up everywhere.
Your child doesn't have to belong to a sports team to become fit. Competitive or team sports aren't for everyone. Some children feel too self-conscious to play on a team, or they fear they will embarrass themselves. Some kids might not be coordinated enough -- or believe they aren't -- to play on a team. Still others just aren't interested in team sports. What's important is that your child is active in some way.Physical activities that a child can take on to adulthood include bicycling, running, hiking or the martial arts. They offer a good aerobic workout, but don't require a team to participate. In Davis, kids can sign up for CrossFit Kids at Davis Athletic Club. CrossFit Kids is the principal strength and conditioning program that is, by design, broad, general, and inclusive. Parents, you too can sign up for the adult CrossFit program….now that is leading by example.


We all work best when we have a goal. Whether you sign them up for a local fitness program or have decided to become your child’s fitness partner, find a goal event. This can be a local 5k run/walk, a kayak event or a kid’s triathlon. “The Positive Energy Kids Triathlon has served as a great motivator for my daughter to get in shape. Every day she is asking us if she can run, bike or swim” states, Kerry Hickerson, “in fact the first year she participated, she had so much fun that she wanted to do it again…..that day!”


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