Have you heard about the childhood obesity rate? It’s insane. Something like 20% of 6 â€“ 11 year olds are obese. In 1980, that number was 7%. These kids are headed for cardiovascular disease and diabetes, not to mention depression and low self-esteem. I don’t know about you, but I place some of the blame squarely on society.
What do we expect when ketchup is considered a vegetable and gym class twice a week is what passes for an exercise program?
As a mom, I’m aware of the trends, and I do my best to buck them. I’m at a loss when it comes to the food part. I try little things like sneaking some whole grains into the sandwich bread. I guess every little bit helps, but it kind of feels like I’m trying to sweep the sand off the beach.
â€œFresh air impoverishes the doctorâ€ according to Danish proverb. So I decided to focus on outdoor physical activity to get my kids fit. I figured I could make more of an impact there. I mean, kids are supposed to like to go out and play, right? Maybe. I once made the mistake of suggesting to my son that he go shoot some baskets in the driveway.
You would have thought I’d asked him to get an ax and chop down a tree. He turned his head toward me, but his eyes stayed locked on the television screen. â€œI just got to the next level…. and it’s cold outsideâ€.
I realized that just telling them to go out and get some exercise doesn’t work. With all the indoor distractions kids have today, they just won’t do it on their own. We have to be more creative. We have to plan it for them. So plan it for them I did. Here are a couple of things that I did to get my kids moving. And might I add, we’ve had some degree of success .
Family Game Day
You’ve heard of family game night. The whole family sits down and plays a board game. Great for bonding and togetherness. Not so much for getting the heart rate up (unless of course your family is a particularly competitive bunch). Family game day is the same idea, but you go outside and play active games. It’s like the old image of the dad and son out in the yard tossing the football, but it’s the whole family, and it’s mandatory.
We made up a game we called â€œmini-softballâ€. It involved a wiffleball bat, a mid-sized vinyl ball, and a few flat rocks for bases (because that’s what we had on hand). The first time we played, we all had so much fun, we never had to ask twice again.
Team sports are probably the best way to get kids moving. They have scheduled practices, so they have to go. And when they get there, they do have fun. They may even develop a lifelong love for their sport. There are so many to choose from. Have your kid pick one. If they can’t decide, then pick one for them.
My kids were young when I picked soccer for them. It’s the most popular game in the world, so it must be good. It’s great exercise, and it requires a real good mix of team play and individual skill. The community program near our home was great. The volunteer coaches really worked hard to instill a love of the game. And the soccer uniforms for teams these days are something else. The kids really feel like they’re a part of something special. I even caught my son practicing on his own in the yard a few times. Now that’s something special.
In the end, I don’t think kids today are opposed to physical activity exactly. It’s more that with all the options they have for sedentary entertainment, they just need a push. But I’ve discovered that if you plan it for them, they are more than happy to play.
About the Author:
Melissa Cameron is a freelance writer, a mom, and a soccer enthusiast. One way she expresses her passion is by promoting custom design soccer uniforms available through reputable online stores.