By Shannon Smith, Stroller Strides
The American Academy of Pediatrics encourages regular physical activity for children aged 2 and up on most, if not all, days of the week for an average of 60 minutes a day. Regular activity is considered most important for obtaining health-related benefits, even if it is not vigorous exercise. Youth are inherently fit; current recommendations focus on making sure children stay active instead of retreating into a sedentary pattern.
The benefits of exercise are enjoyed by children as well as adults. Physical activity can help:
• Prevent high blood pressure & high cholesterol
• Strengthen bones
• Ward off heart disease and other medical problems
• Relieve stress
• Maintain or achieve an appropriate weight for height and body build
• Reduce risk for Type II Diabetes
• Provide a healthy outlook on life
Any form of physical activity that is regular, enjoyable, and sustainable is the desired endpoint.
Exercise will be most enjoyable, and thus, beneficial, if it is part of a family experience. Fitness should be a family affair and should be promoted as a fun, healthy way of life. Taking family bike rides, hiking together, swimming, or just running around on the playground are fun ways in incorporate family fitness. In addition to regular physical activity, a healthy, balanced diet filled with fruits, vegetables, and whole grains will help your children maintain fitness levels and healthy body mechanics.