Kids Fitness Tips from Gold’s Gym, Douglasville

Get Your Children Moving

With one in three American children now overweight, how do you keep your kids from joining the heavy ranks? Gold’s Gym provides you with an expert plan for children of all ages.

When First Lady Michelle Obama chose to focus on the fight against childhood obesity, she pointed a spotlight on an alarming and growing problem. “Over the past three decades childhood obesity rates in America have tripled,” according to a statement by the First Lady’s “Let’s Move!” initiative. “If we don’t solve this problem, one-third of all children born in 2000 or later will suffer from diabetes at some point in their lives.” In an article in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers stated that due to obesity-related conditions like diabetes and heart disease the current generation of youth could have a shorter life expectancy than their parents—for the first time in American history.

There’s a simple reason: Technology has made us less active while food portions have as much as quintupled. Most children spend up to seven hours a day, at the computer or TV. In fact, only a third of them get in enough aerobic activity (the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends 60 minutes per day) and many schools are cutting back on physical education programs.

So how can you encourage your kids to keep active—and make sure that they grow up instead of out? We asked Len Saunders, an American Heart Association spokesperson on childhood obesity and a former member of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition.

First, he advises, bear in mind that as a parent, you hold the key. “You’re the role model,” he says, “and if your children see you living an unhealthy lifestyle, they are going to mimic that.” So make sure that your family places a high priority on healthy eating and regular exercise.

“Second,” he says, “try not to use television as a babysitter too often.” You don’t want your child to make a habit of plopping down on the couch—the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests setting a two-hour limit on screen time—and a recent study showed that children who are continually exposed to food advertisements down 45% more snacks. Saunders realizes that most parents have busy schedules that make it hard to entertain their kids and get through their to-do list—”I went for a jog at eleven last night,” he admits—but getting your kids to be more active is easier than you think. “You just need to be creative,” he says.

Here are surefire ways to get kids of any age off the couch:

Activate Your Toddler

Ages: 2-4
Children in this age group are the easiest to get moving—they have tons of energy and are too young for Xbox addiction. A trip to the local jungle gym might be all the impetus your kids need to run wild—but even if you’re housebound, you can get them moving:

• Put the chicken dance or macarena on YouTube and ask them to join in.
• Get their imagination going by having them crawl like a lion or hop like a kangaroo.
• Make letters with your body and have them mimic you. They can learn the alphabet and play at the same time.

Power Up Your Primary School Age Child

Ages: 5-9
While most five-to nine-year-olds feel the draw of technology, they still have tons of energy and a constant drive to play. So swap out video game marathons for these activities:

 

• Have them help you with housework. “Most kids this age actually want to vacuum; they think its fun,” says Saunders.
• Organize pick-up softball or ultimate Frisbee in your backyard, or sign them up for a Little League team.
• Once they learn to ride a bike, schedule family fun rides and find safe routes that they can take when you are too busy to go out.
• During the fall and winter, make a game out of who can clear the most leaves or snow in the quickest time. Winner gets hot chocolate.

Motivate Your Tween

Ages: 10-13
As children’s ages hit the double digits, so does their sense of independence. “They are going to want to stay up later and spend more time on the computer,” Saunders says. He suggests a two-for-one swap where the kids get one minute of computer or television for every two minutes of exercise (his cap on technology is two hours). “This is a way to find some middle ground,” Saunders explains. “You aren’t saying they can’t use the computer—you’re making a reward out of it.”

• Encourage your kids to join teams at school. “Physical activity at this age really helps grow self-esteem,” he says. If your children initially struggle at sports, flip on your cheerleader switch and get them to keep trying. “When kids fail early at sports, many go into a cocoon and reach for technology even more,” Saunders observes.
• Let them try out karate or another form of martial arts. If lessons are too expensive, use instructional videos on YouTube.
• Get them a pass for the local swimming pool and check if there are open races in your area—there’s nothing like some competition to inspire your tween.
• Buy each kid a skateboard or roller skates and a helmet! On weeknights they can freestyle in the driveway; on the weekends they can show off their skills at the roller rink or skate park.
• Sign up as a family for a charity run or walk. Then train together three or four nights a week after dinner.

Train Your Teenager

Ages: 14-18
Once they’ve made the leap from middle school to high school, most kids are mentally and physically ready to start going to a gym. Teenagers who learn to work out regularly are beginning a healthy discipline that will follow them into adulthood. “Also, this is the time when fat cells can really start developing,” Saunders says. “It’s much harder for adults who didn’t exercise when they were young to lose weight.”

If you decide to let your teens start hitting the weights, here are some pointers from Saunders:

• Supervise them closely. Make sure they know the proper way to use the machines and free weights, and check their form.
• Make sure they’re lifting the proper amount of weight. Rule of thumb: They should be able to do 12 to 15 repetitions.
• Explain the proper breathing technique: Exhale as you lift, inhale as you release.
• Talk to your kids about muscle recovery. Tell them not to work out the same muscles every day. And explain the importance of taking days off to let the body rest.
• Consider treating your kids to a session with a personal trainer. The trainer can explain the benefits and principles of strength training, point out the different muscle groups, demonstrate how to use a variety of machines and give a lesson in free-weight basics.
• Most important, tell your kids that change won’t happen overnight. Many teenagers want to see results right away and get discouraged when they don’t. Emphasize that it takes a lot of time and work to get Mark Wahlberg’s biceps or Venus Williams’s thighs.

For a fun family activity check out the tennis program at Gold’s Gym on Hospital Drive or the rock wall at Gold’s Gym Chapel Hill.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: