Let’s not call it exercise! Call it having fun!
It would be more exciting if activities such as jumping, running, dancing, and swimming would be seen as having fun. As soon as we start calling them exercise it gives a “must do” feeling taking all the fun out of enjoying them.
From age three children are naturally eager to do activities, such as jumping, running, playing, dancing, swimming, and just having fun moving.
As soon as children start going to school, most of these fun activities are regulated and others are lost. Unfortunately, as children grow older, a more sedentary life is set at home as new ways of having fun are replaced by some that don’t require any exertion, such as watching television, video games, and cell phone usage. Thus, becoming a threat to the child’s health.
These variations in physical activity during childhood wouldn’t be so dramatic if schools would continue upholding the time to play, run, jump, sports, physical education or even allowing recess.
For example: studies show that only 3.8% of elementary, 7.9% of middle, and 2.1% of high schools provide daily physical education or its equivalent for the entire school year. Twenty-two percent of schools do not require students to take any physical education at all and some recess has been removed.
We have brought new technology, such as exercise equipment, into homes and health clubs. We have also introduced alternative children’s programs to replace traditional fun activities; and it’s ironic because we have significantly more problems now with obesity than ever before.
Bring fun back to school.
Nonetheless, there is hope if we can conceptualize what used to be and how it can help solve what is troubling us today. We have failed as we haven’t seeing positive changes, but it’s never too late to bring those activities back to school, and at least adding back recess so kids can move and be active. Children can have the best education with great grades, but when their health suffers, what is the point? And last, but not least, when talking to children and adolescents about physical activity, we should practice using “fun activities” instead of “exercise” to give a different mental image that is positive and helpful.
It is vital to provide fitness and nutrition as a single integrated approach in the child’s early years. Once the child’s weight is not in the normal range, there is less possibility that the child feels like engaging in any physical activity. This is due to several factors such as: when feeling heavier this single condition can cause a lack of self-esteem, and a lack of motivation and responsibility can lead to apathy towards any physical activity. Therefore, both the required physical and emotional aspect are compromised. These are essential to give the child the strength, energy, and motivation necessary to feel comfortable enough to succeed.
Fitness and nutrition
Furthermore, when we put together fitness with the right nutrition, children become more aware of how these two are linked together to provide the best health outcome and feeling of wellbeing. Understanding how food affects their bodies can have a positive impact on what they eat. This is based on following considerations.
1) Boosts mood, 2) Burns body fat, 3) Reduces inflammation, 4) Raises good HDL
cholesterol levels, 5) Makes the child more confident because they feel stronger.
Over time, this can reduce the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and depression.
Additionally, we need to include the following five (5) nutrients to maximize children’s fitness:
Carbohydrates - when you are physically active, carbs are your best energy source.
Proteins – while not the main source of energy, during exercise, they are important for muscle repair after physical activity.
Fats - they provide a long-term source of energy for physical activity.
Vitamins and minerals - they are needed to support physical activity. They are indirectly involved because certain B vitamins are needed for processes that convert food molecules into the form of energy your body can use.
Water helps to cool the body. It also provides a medium that transports nutrients to muscles and removes waste products from the muscles. If too much water is lost and not replenished, it can lead to dehydration.
So think fun, not exercise!