Fitness for Children - foundation for a long healthy life

Physical activity is an integral part of your child’s life; it has a tremendous impact on physical, intellectual and emotional development. As adults, we have a responsibility to be role models for our children, sharing with them the pleasures and benefits of a physically active lifestyle. Developing a love of sports and a habit of regular physical activity as a child can be the foundation for long, healthy life.

With child obesity reaching epidemic levels there has been no more critical time than now to focus on child and adolescent fitness. These problems are exacerbated by the more sedentary lifestyles we live with children being content to sit in front of computers all day, instead of joining sports teams, and other physically demanding activities.

Proper nutrition also is essential for your child. As with physical activity, you are a role model. When you choose and prepare healthful foods, your child also will be more likely to follow your example. The first step toward helping your child eat a healthier diet is making a variety of nutritious foods readily available at home. That way your child can choose what he or she likes.

Make family meals a priority beginning with breakfast. Breakfast is outstanding because it provides a significant part of a child’s daily energy supply. Children who eat breakfast are better nourished and are more likely to meet their daily need for certain essential vitamins and minerals than breakfast skippers. Parents should keep an assortment of convenient, nutritious breakfast choices available and within easy reach of their children. The best options are high-carbohydrate, low-fat foods like cereal or cereal bars, low-fat milk and fruit.

Getting involved in your child’s diet and fitness routine will show your support and help foster a great relationship, not to mention to lay a foundation for 
being fitness minded for many generations to come.

What Parents Can Do

Here are some other activity tips you can follow:
  • Monitor TV watching, computer games, and computer time other than homework. Set a limit -- an hour a day -- on TV watching. 
  • Make sure kids have time to be outside. 
  • Plan outdoor activities as a family.
  • Enrol kids in after-school gymnastics, soccer, or swimming programs. 
  • Join a gym with a child activity program. More and more health clubs are doing this. 
  • Walk around the neighbourhood with the kids after dinner.
  • Make yard work a game that the kids participate in.
  • Make healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables available in the home. 
  • Find alternatives to fast food. 
  • Starting in the toddler years, limit the child's juice intake. 
Provide easy-to-eat snack alternatives. Have cut-up celery and carrots on hand. Don't entirely deprive kids of less-healthy snacks. Kids who feel deprived are more likely to gorge on these foods when they can get their hands on them. Moderation is the key.

Remember where your kids learn about a healthy lifestyle.

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