Josh Bowen: Keeping Kids Active

joshA friend of mine, who is an elementary school teacher, told me that her kids are only alloted 15 minutes of recess a day. Often times the teachers are under such scrutiny to hit certain test scores that PE and recess are both put on the back burner. If the school systems would only take a look at several studies that show the more active a child (or adult for that matter) is the better their mind works to absorb vital information. So by limiting and abolishing recess and PE we are doing a disservice to our youth. We have to take matters into our own hands to keep our kids moving and active. These strategies are not revolutionary but they are helpful. Here we go!

Promote Activity

Not exercise- Huh? Yeah! Promotion of exercise and workouts are going to get your kids hyped up to go to the gym or even ride their bikes. They may not be ready for “exercise” but they will more than enjoy activity. This keeps the young mind that loses interest quickly, on task and having fun. I suggest the following:

Active Play

Ditch the video games and play catch, hide and go seek, Simon says and twister. Go old school, take it back to when you were a kid and you played hide and go seek for hours. Remember how much fun that was? I can’t tell you the last time I heard a kid talking about hide and seek, they would rather play Halo. Halo ain’t got nothing on hide and go seek (forgive me, I am from Kentucky)!

Try an Active Party

In the summer time throw a party for your kids at the batting cages or in the winter a bowling party would fit the bill. Old school mentality but activity nonetheless. This may inspire your young ones to pick a sport or find a hobby, all of which is great!

Give them a Choice

Yes, they should be consulted with these decisions. A ten year old is not going to do something they do not want to do. So back door them, get them to pretend it was their idea and watch what happens!

Limit Screen Time

A surefire way to increase your child’s activity level is to limit the number of hours he or she spends in front of a screen — including television, video games and online activities. For example, you might consider a limit of one or two hours a day and, for a better night’s sleep, no screen time in the hour before bed. To make it easier, don’t put a television in your child’s bedroom, don’t watch television while you’re eating dinner, and restrict computers and other electronic gadgets to a family area. Also consider limiting other sedentary activities, such as text messaging or chatting on the phone.

If your child plays video games, opt for those that require movement. Activity-oriented video games — such as dance video games and video games that use a player’s physical movements to control what happens on the screen — boost a child’s calorie-burning power. In a Mayo Clinic study, kids who traded sedentary screen time for active screen time more than doubled their energy expenditure.

Walk the Walk

Here is the most important one. If this is not in play, the rest do not matter. You must back up what you preach. Children with active parents are far and away to be more active. It is that simple. You can’t go tell your child to go play outside and be active, if you are sitting on your rear end doing nothing. The facts hurt but they are true. We are at fault for the lack of activity our youth gets. Not technology, not our school system (well maybe they get some blame) but us.

I do not have children so many of you can point that out and say I have no idea what I am talking about. And your argument may be valid. However I have trained children as young as 11. It was honestly one of the best experiences of my career. I sought out to spark a young mind to value activity, not just exercise. Exercise is just the tool.

Wonder how much physical activity is enough? Consider these guidelines from the Department of Health and Human Services:

Children and adolescents age 6 and older need at least an hour a day of physical activity. Most of the hour should be either moderate or vigorous aerobic activity. In addition, children should participate in muscle-strengthening and bone-strengthening activities at least three days a week. Many classic activities — such as playing on playground equipment and jumping rope — cover all the bases at once.

So there you have it, a game plan for establishing activity and play in our youth. This is important, more important than most realize. The quality of life of the next generation depends on the current generation. Let’s do our jobs and inspire, motivate and build a healthier future for our kids.

Here is a young, active kid from Lexington, KY (with hair!) Just a kid with a dream of being a personal trainer!

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