Home > Fit Families > Little Things That Add Up

Little Things That Add Up

By: Elizabeth Grace - Updated: 7 Dec 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Exercise For Kids Keeping Kids Active

All kids from toddlers to teens need daily exercise. In an ideal world, kids would have blocks of time planned into their days for running, stretching, climbing, walking, and swimming, assuring that they maintain healthy fitness levels. Unfortunately, we do not live in an ideal world and many families are hurried and overscheduled, leaving very little time for planned physical activities. For these families, there is some comfort in knowing that fitness can be improved by looking for ways to incorporate physical activity into their children’s daily chores and errands.

Getting an Early Start

Perhaps one of the easiest ways to improve health and fitness without making dramatic changes to an existing routine is to set the alarm for a bit earlier (even 15 minutes will help) than usual and using that time for a brisk walk, a stationary bike ride, or other form of exercise. That way, even if the rest of the day turns out to be hectic and hurried, at least some exercise has been done. Another good reason for starting with activity is that it tends to set the tone for the remainder of the day – relieving stress and boosting energy levels. In theory at least, that increased energy will encourage kids (and us!) to be more active all throughout the day.

Up and Moving!

Far too many kids choose passive forms of entertainment, such as playing computer games or watching videos. Substituting even half of their sedentary pastimes with active, physical play can make dramatic changes in children’s fitness levels, weight, and overall health status. Overweight and obese children are quite common these days, with childhood obesity putting kids at risk for heart disease, hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes, and even some forms of cancer. Improved eating habits and daily activity can turn the trend, though, helping kids to regain robust health.

It is understandable that parents do not want to upset their children and cause household discord by demanding complete overhauls in their kids’ lives, but in order for families to be healthy, some rules must be in place to discourage sedentary lifestyles. Setting time limits or offering rewards of video game playing time in exchange for time spent exercising may be necessary in order to keep kids healthy. While parents may be hesitant to implement changes and can expect some initial resistance, they may be pleasantly surprised to find that once their kids get into the habit of exercising every day, they will soon look forward to active play times. Kids who get enough exercise not only improve their health and look better, but they feel better, too. Exercise reduces stress reactions, diminishes anxiety, and may even offer relief from mild to moderate depression. Once kids start getting active, they usually find that they love it and continue without being prodded by Mum and Dad.

Exercise Habits

Experts recommend at least an hour (preferably 90 minutes) of daily exercise for children and teens, but not all of that activity needs to be consecutive. Integrating small bits of activity over the course of the day can have a profound affect on fitness levels, so parents should encourage their kids to be active whenever the opportunity presents itself. Walking to and from school, possibly by joining a Walking Bus if available in their community, can give kids two bursts of activity most days of the week. Choosing the stairs rather than a lift, utilising classroom breaks for stretching and playing actively, and maximising effort whenever possible can all add up when practiced consistently. When it is advisable to do so (outdoors, rather than inside), kids should walk briskly as opposed to strolling along, and even better, should full-out run when they can.

The habit of driving children to all of their social engagements and activities is a fairly new one – even children just one generation ago considered walking or bike riding to be their main means of transportation. Parents may choose to drive their children only when distance, inclement weather, or other factors make it unreasonable for the kids to walk. Parking a few blocks from a destination (or at least at the back of the lot) can help, as can requiring that children do chores. Walking the family pet, raking leaves, working in the garden and cleaning the house all count (although kids may not be quite as enthusiastic about these suggestions as they would be to going for a swim!). Small changes, when viewed collectively, can be life-changing – even life saving.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Topics
Latest Comments
  • Rainbow
    Re: Compulsory PE in School
    I am in year 7 and I don't do pe because of my anxiety. The teachers were okay with this and told me to at least write what is going on…
    13 February 2019
  • Charlotte Marie Apri
    Re: Compulsory PE in School
    In my school. I have two timetables week A and Week B. Week B there is only 2 pe lessons Tuesday and Wednesday but week A there is…
    10 November 2018
  • Michelle
    Re: Compulsory PE in School
    My daughter who is in year 10 has a new P.E teacher and I'm constantly receiving texts saying something from her P.E kit is missing,…
    28 September 2018
  • Stan
    Re: Compulsory PE in School
    My son has no pe at all, he has been given booster lessons for maths and when he reaches his (or their!) target he gets his pe back!!! he…
    12 September 2018
  • Mater
    Re: Compulsory PE in School
    Disgusted to find that my child's new timetable for year 11, has increased PE to two sessions a week, thereby losing one of his GCE…
    5 September 2018
  • Bellybutton
    Re: Can Too Much Exercise Damage a Child?
    I am my wits end with my 14 year old daughter is very active playing football which is her love and passion she is on…
    14 July 2018
  • KidsExercise
    Re: Compulsory PE in School
    Ella - Your Question:Hello, I am in my last year of secondary school. I am hoping to go to sixth form. Will I still have to do physical…
    22 May 2018
  • Ella
    Re: Compulsory PE in School
    Hello, i am in my last year of secondary school. I am hoping to go to sixth form. Will I still have to do physical education in sixth form
    16 May 2018
  • KidsExercise
    Re: Compulsory PE in School
    Kayla - Your Question:Is pe compulsory for year eleven students when there exams startOur Response:
    14 May 2018
  • Kayla
    Re: Compulsory PE in School
    Is pe compulsory for year eleven students when there exams start
    13 May 2018