There are three obvious branches of physical health that affect everyone: sleep, nutrition, and physical activity. In past blogs, we have touched on sleep. Remember children need more sleep than adults. When they are growing quickly, they may need more sleep. For instance, A child may be able to get by on 9 hours of sleep at age 12 but then go back to needing 10 hours of sleep at at 13-14. at that age it is hard to get them to sleep early so naps may be necessary.
We also touched on nutrition in a past blog. I could spend lots of time on foods and nutrition as that is my obsession. We will return to that subject with questions and answers as there are more followers.
We haven’t covered physical activity or exercise. It is so easy to become nonchalant about exercise as adults because it takes time and effort. Guess what? The less you exercise, the harder it gets. This is all true for children too. The small amount of walking they may do to and from school rarely equals the hour and a half to two hours daily exercise needed for optimal health. We dare not depend on physical education in schools as it is generally one half hour two time a week for elementary children. Maybe with the half hour (15 min.times 2) of recess, your kidos may get enough exercise twice a week. For secondary children, PE can be 45 to 50 minutes 2 to 3 a week for the semester it is required. For high school kids, this semester is required only 2 times in a four year curriculum.
What does this mean? Another area of health parents need to help with. Here are several tips to help children get enough exercise.
- Limit TV and video games. If your child has only 4 hours to be awake at home (4-8 PM), the leisure time they are sitting should be one hour or less.
- Send them out to play. If they are young, you may need to go out with them. Fenced back yards are wonderful but nearby parks are a blessing. Friends and siblings are also a blessing so a parent doesn’t have to do all the active play with the child.
- If it is too cold to go out or there are no friends readily available, try play groups. You may even need to do exercise videos with your child.
- Sports are great and have many rewards. They rarely last more than two months at a time. They also keep parents very busy.
- Plan family outings that include biking, hiking, sports, or swimming. I seen some very active sports or dancing video games. I know a family that goes swimming together at the YMCA almost every Saturday afternoon or evening. Boy, can those kids swim! It brings their family together also.
Regular physical activity is a great preventative tool so kids do not get overweight. Obesity is an epidemic (? it is not contagious) in America. Keep your children moving.