Thursday, July 14, 2011

5 Guidelines to a Fit and Healthy Child

News is breaking on whether parents should lose custody of their children if they are extremely obese. To no one's surprise it's sparking plenty of debate.

But this is a serious issue. Childhood obesity has tripled since 1980 and almost 20% of kids are now overweight.

This led Dr. David Ludwig, obesity expert at Children's Hospital Boston, to suggest state intervention in the most recent Journal of the American Medical Association. "State intervention may serve the best interests of many children with life-threatening obesity, compromising the only realistic way to control harmful behaviors," says Ludwig.

Regardless of opinion, I'm shocked it's even coming to this.

The problem has spiraled so far out of control it's hard to point a finger at any one thing. But fitness deserves a finger pointing. But make no mistake, this is a multifaceted problem and as it grows it gets more and more complicated.

Do you have kids? Are they overweight? Or obese?

Can you imagine having them taken from you? Your own children being taken because they're obese!

I won't get into a political discussion. But I will discuss the health implications.

If your child is overweight, obese, or maybe you're afraid of their future based on his or her current habits, then your attention to the 5 guidelines below is vital.

We're now seeing children with problems such as type 2 diabetes, elevated blood pressure and cholesterol, and breathing and liver problems that could kill them before the age of 30. Like I said, this is a serious issue.

I've listed 5 guidelines below to start or re-start your kids on the right path to a fit and healthy lifestyle. I believe this is fundamental to every child's upbringing.

1. Don't rely on sports

It's great if your child plays soccer, baseball,
or other sports. But studies have shown that less
than 25% of student athletes receive the
recommended 60 minutes of daily exercise.
Depending on the sport, team, level of play, and
other factors will determine just how much
physical activity your child will get through
their sports. Be careful not to scapegoat their
fitness on this.

2. Turn off the TV

And the video game. And the computer. And the
phone. And the whatever else kids are playing with
these days. I could make a safe bet you sit at a
desk for most of the day. So you know what
that can do to you and your physical activity. Now
think of your kid doing that their entire life.

You didn't have a Nintendo when you were a kid.
You probably built tree houses and played freeze
tag. Try suggesting freeze tag to your kid and
they'll look at you like you have three heads. But
you can set rules for TV, video games, etc...
Force them outside and into activity.

3. Look in the mirror

I talked about this earlier in the year and it's
resurfaced due to its importance. I also have
specific experience with this.

The seed for fitness and nutrition was planted by
my dad. He exercised three or four times a week.
He made us healthy lunches when we were in school.
And we weren't allowed to have a Nintendo. And
that seed blossomed.

Maybe your kid won't become a personal trainer.
But you can bet you'll be instilling good LIFELONG
behaviors in them. This alone is priceless. If you
are not a proactive model for fitness and
nutrition in their life something or someone else
will be.

4. Positive reinforcement

Praise your child when they have fun playing a
specific sport or when they do well at a certain
activity. Encourage, even inspire, them to keep at
it and get better. Creating a positive association
to exercise and eating right goes a long way.

A study in the journal Health Psychology showed
kids more likely to sign up for team sports when
they were encouraged and supported by their
parents. And to no surprise the kids that did not
receive support sat around more. Support,
encouragement and inspiration are crucial.
Especially when it comes from mom and dad.

5. Schedule events around activity

I remember going to a friends birthday party in
5th grade and we played Super Mario Brothers the
entire night. I played maybe 5 minutes. But I was
the worst gamer there. That's because as I
mentioned earlier, our family didn't have a
Nintendo. I threatened to turn my parents into the
state on charges of child abuse. Their answer;
"I'll give you the number to call."

A lot of my birthdays were at the pool. (there's a
bonus to being born in July). But whether it's a
birthday, play date, or just something to do on
the weekend you can find something active and fun
to do.

All five of these guidelines can be put into action immediately. I invite your questions and comments below on this subject. If your child needs help with their fitness please contact me. We've trained kids as young as 6 and up through college. Each is different and needs vary. Click here to find out more.