It’s hard to argue with the statistics on childhood obesity.
In the last 30 years, obesity in children between 6 and 11 years old has more than doubled. Childhood obesity has both immediate and long-term health effects, such as the possibility of prediabetes and an increased cancer risk.
As a parent, it’s up to you to help your child live a healthy lifestyle. Of course you can plan fun activities that get the blood pumping at home, but it’s also important to look at the location your children spend many hours a day at elementary school.
How much exercise do children need?
The National Association of Sport and Physical Education says that elementary-aged kids should be physically active for at least 150 minutes per week at school. The CDC recommends that children get an average of 60 minutes of exercise daily.
Schools don’t have to follow any federal regulations for physical education. This is why it’s important to find out how your child’s school ensures that kids get the exercise they need.
Meet with your child’s teacher
Your child’s teacher is a great resource and starting point for your research. Ask how many times a week the students have a physical education class, how long the class is and what other physical activities they may do. Recess could also be a good source of activity, so ask the teacher if she’s noticed what your child tends to do during that time. You might also want to ask for an introduction to the physical education instructor.
Talk to the school’s physical education instructor
The school’s physical education instructor is your best resource for understanding what kind of exercise your child is getting. Ask what goes on in a typical class session and what activities kids do. If classes have already been in session for a few weeks, ask the instructor how your child is doing and how much he participates. After all, a great physical education class means nothing if your child chooses to sit on the sidelines.
Look into intramural activities
After talking to your child’s classroom teacher and physical education instructor, you may still get the feeling that your child isn’t getting quite enough daily exercise. If that’s the case, you can look into intramural activities to see what the school offers. Activities vary from school to school, but many schools offer baseball, basketball, volleyball, soccer and football. Not only will your child be closer to meeting physical activity goals, he can also benefit from higher self-esteem, teamwork, opportunities for leadership, and better time management skills.
If your child doesn’t like the idea of going out for a team sport, you can still get him out of the house for some healthy exercise. Organize a hike on a local nature trail, or go for a family bike ride in a nearby park. Getting out and getting exercise is a great way to have fun with your child.
Exercise doesn’t have to be an unpleasant experience for your child; it’s the key to a healthy mind and a healthy body.
Benefits of Youth Sports. Kids Play USA Foundation. Retrieved August 19, 2014 from Kids Play USA Foundation.
Charles, K. (2012, July 10.) Most kids don’t get enough PE, says study. CNN. Retrieved August 19, 2014 from CNN
Childhood Obesity Facts. (2014.) Retrieved August 19, 2014 from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Kelly, B. & Carchia, C. (2013, July 11). “Hey, data data – swing!” ESPN. Retrieved August 19, 2014 from ESPN.