It’s about as important as feeding your kids
From chauffeuring your children to activities, to helping them with homework, to teaching them the sometimes difficult lessons of life, parents have a demanding job.
But one of the most important things you can do as a parent is to encourage your children to lead healthy lives. Parents can make a positive difference in their children’s health just by setting a good example.
Studies show children and teens are out of shape and overweight, which can have devastating health implications. In 1999, 13 percent of children ages 6-11 years were overweight, up from 11 percent in the previous survey conducted from 1988-1994, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). The number of overweight teenagers (ages 12-19) increased from 11-14 percent in the same time period.
Researcher, an American College of Sports Medicine-certified exercise specialist at Baptist Wellness Complex, said parents should take their children’s physical fitness very seriously.
“I would put it at the top of the list,” Bailey said. “It’s about as important as feeding your kids.”
Overweight children are at risk for cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and other serious health problems, according to the CDC.
Researcher grew up hiking and playing baseball with her family. The only indoor games they played were cards and board games. That, in part, led to her career in sports medicine. “I had a model. Parents need to be models for their kids.”
Parents should take part in sports and physical activities alongside their children. Start when your children are young. Make it a way of life. Not only will it strengthen your family’s health, but it will strengthen family bonds, too.
“Your kids see you’re out there doing it with them,” researcher said. “I appreciated my dad much more because he spent so much time with us.”
Researcher offered the following suggestions:
Take your children hiking in a state park.
Accompany your kids on daily walks.
Play ball. Start early by rolling and bouncing a ball with your children. These activities will help develop hand-eye coordination. When your children get a little older, teach them to throw, catch, and hit a ball.
Start swim lessons early if your child’s physician thinks it’s OK. Many YMCAs and sports clubs offer parent-child classes for parents and their infants and toddlers. Swim classes for children start as early as age 3.
Tennis and bicycling are good family activities.
Limit access to computers and television.
Find a fitness mentor for your child. Often, coaches of church, school, and community-league teams can fill this role.