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Get our Kids Moving!

"The Freshman 15” and “The COVID 19”” and the Need To Get Our Kids Moving!

What is “The COVID “19””? This is a phrase that I have heard more and more recently in reference to the pounds that we may have put on during the pandemic due to the drastic changes to our lifestyles this year. Our kids have spent significantly more time at home, doing more screen time than ever before and with less organized physical activity than they have had in the past. Now is a good time to take this opportunity to regroup and think about what kinds of physical activities and healthy diets our kids need to keep healthy!

Kids need exercise for so many reasons, not just to burn calories. Physical activity is a key factor in kids cardiovascular health, musculoskeletal health, mental and behavioral health, and in their physical, social and cognitive development. With the pandemic, we are seeing more and more adolescents dealing with anxiety and depression as well as obesity. Physical activity can help kids get more energy, handle their stress better, improve their self-confidence and self-esteem, as well as provide avenues to make new friends and gain social acceptance. It is also amazing how it can improve their concentration at school!

Only about 1 out of 4 children are getting the recommended amount of physical activity needed per day. The 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans for children are as follows:

3-5 yr olds: 3 + hours per day of light, moderate or vigorous activity

6-17 yr olds: 60 + minutes per day of moderate or vigorous activity

While this may seem daunting at first (I certainly felt that way), the time is not meant to all be consecutive and there are many different types of activities that count. Kids have way too much sedentary time and screen time. More than 20% of children watch over 3 hrs of television per day on school days, and the average 8-18 yr old spends more than 7 hours per day in front of a screen. As parents, there are several things we can do to reduce this sedentary time for our children. Putting limits on screen time within our own homes encourages kids to be more active and to play more. I have seen my own children have better behavior with limits to their screen time as well! We are also role models for our kids. Just as I am reminded when my daughter tells me to put my phone down, they need to see us as their parents being active to want to do it too and to understand the importance of physical activity.

For young children, three hours sounds like a lot, but it is very attainable when you think about the active play that this age group needs and yearns for. Have balls, jump ropes, scooters, tricycles and bikes (with helmets of course!) available for them. Take a visit to the park. Go for walks together. Take swim lessons or play soccer. There are many ways to let them just play. I can’t count how many times I have heard that a three- or four-year-old is too active, but reality is for most of them that they need that activity.

For older kids, tailor the activities to them. Moderate to vigorous physical activity for 60 minutes per day means activity that causes you to break a sweat and breathe heavy. Things like bicycling, brisk walking, running, rollerblading, basketball, soccer, tennis, swimming, jumping rope and martial arts all count. For older kids this could be recess play for 20 minutes, walking to and from school for 20 minutes and finding another activity for 20 minutes. If your child is not regularly active now, it is best to work up to the goal of 60 minutes per day by finding activities that they enjoy and building up from there.

Time to put our excuses aside and help our whole family get moving!

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