My three-year-old daughter received her first “big-girl” bike last week. Too big for her tricycle, she received a two-wheeler, complete with a backpack that attaches to the handlebars, a water bottle, and training wheels.
She is in love, and has wanted to do nothing but ride this bike constantly. And I’m glad, because the CDC recommends that in order to stay healthy, children should have at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day.
However, looking at their guidelines and the three types of physical activity the CDC recommends kids perform, I wonder how many kids are meeting this requirement. And perhaps more importantly, how easy it is for them to do so, given the largely sedentary environment in which so many children grow up and the myriad unhealthy temptations that exist everywhere they go.
One of the main reasons I chose my daughter’s preschool was because the children go outside to play on the school’s playground every single day (barring a rainstorm or other prohibitive weather). She’s enrolled in swimming lessons this summer at the club, and is attending her preschool’s outdoor summer camp (in addition to two others through my town’s recreation department). And eating healthfully is something she’s grown up with, so she’s completely unaware that kid-targeted fast-food restaurants even exist.
But she’s three. She doesn’t watch commercial television. We don’t have a video game console. Her computer time is limited to the preschool-level Clifford game at the library. And the Golden Arches are just a giant yellow letter “M” to her. I have no delusions that it will be this easy to keep her active and eating well in another year or two, when her world will open up and she’ll begin to beg for things to which she currently has no exposure.
And I’m scared.
But I’m also really lucky. And you are too.
We belong to a club that makes a healthy lifestyle easy for us, and for our kids as well. The hours accomodate virtually every schedule. Classes are tailored for a wide range of fitness levels and interests. And from Kidtown’s 4,000 square feet of wide open space to encourage movement to Camp Midtown, the club’s four-day Summer Sports Camp for kids, to Tennis and Yoga Camps, the club is focused on helping the entire family stay active.
The childhood obesity rate in this country is skyrocketing, so clearly encouraging our children to get up off the couch, away from the DS, and out from behind the computer is something we need to do. It’s heart-breaking to think of the results of this new study, which has proven something many of us know already: overweight kids are 63% more likely to be bullied in elementary school.
But how do we combat the mixed messages they receive when they’re out of our care?
If you have kids or work with kids, how do you help them stay active?