Motivating kids to stay fit is a challenge. There's so much competition: television, computer games, talking to friends on the phone.
It's even harder when the weather is bad or if there's not a safe place outdoors to exercise.
But encouraging children to stay fit is more important than ever.
"Studies show that more than 20 percent of American children are obese. This puts them at risk for health problems, such as diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure," says Local Fitness Expert, Gigi Teeter.
According to Teeter, even small amounts of exercise can help children stay at a healthful weight. With some planning, children can find ways to exercise without leaving home.
Step one: Tame the TV
The best way to get kids exercising is to cut back on the amount of time they spend sitting around not moving-especially time spent watching television.
"Children can stay in good shape by doing simple exercises inside the home," says Teeter.
Teeter says children and adolescents "should work on strength-training and agility skills and cardiovascular training."
She recommends this routine:
- 1. Warm up by running stairs or jumping rope.
- 2. Stretch the trunk, arms and legs to limber up.
- 3. Do a set of 10 to 15 pushups, keeping the back straight and stomach muscles tight when going up and down.
- 4. Do a set of 15 to 25 crunches to work the stomach (abdominal) muscles. Do this lying on your back with your arms behind your head. Keep the small of your back on the ground while lifting your head and shoulders up off the ground.
- 5. Do a set of 15 to 25 squats to work the lower body. Hold onto the back of a chair or doorknob for support and bend down at the knees and stand up again. When squatting down, keep your back straight, sit straight down and rise straight up again. Keep your knees from moving forward to reduce strain on your ankles.
Children and teens should try to repeat this routine until they've been active for 30 minutes or more, Teeter says. As kids gain strength, they can build up their sets from 15 or 20 repetitions to 35 repetitions and upward.
Sticking to the routine by doing it every day or every other day will help kids get stronger and keep them in shape, Teeter says.
"These are all things that can be done indoors without any special equipment," she says.
Teeter says fitness clubs, such as Gigi's Fitness Center of CHRISTUS St. Patrick Hospital, are great for keeping in shape. Other options include school gyms and swimming pools if they are open in the evening, or malls or shopping centers where children can walk laps.
Children can also stay active by doing housework and using stairs instead of the elevator.
The key thing is to build activity into a child's daily routine. Remember that setting a good example helps. Join your child in the exercise routine or plan regular family walks or bicycle trips to keep moving.